New cures for hepatitis C — but are they affordable? - Gregory Curfman, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Publications

The public health burden of hepatitis C is enormous. This serious viral infection of the liver causes cirrhosis, liver cancer, and end-stage liver failure, often requiring liver transplantation. Over 3 million people in the United States, and 150 million worldwide, are infected with hepatitis C virus, resulting in 700,000 deaths per year.
People who are infected with hepatitis C virus often have no symptoms. The virus persists in the liver, slowly damaging liver tissue over a long period of time. For this reason, it is critical that progression of liver damage be stopped before advanced liver disease or liver cancer occurs.
But there’s some very good news: in the last few years, we have witnessed extraordinary progress in developing new drug treatments for hepatitis C.  Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) and sofosbuvir combined with ledipasvir (Harvoni) are two well-known examples of these new drug therapies. Another new combination drug, sofosbuvir and velpatasvir, which was recently described in a report in The New England Journal of Medicine, is extremely effective against most forms of hepatitis C virus and will become the standard therapy when this combination is approved by the FDA.
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