A San Antonio doctor has published a cure for hepatitis C, one of the most painful, and expensive, diseases in the world, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Dr. Eric Lawitz, who is with the U.T. Health Science Center at San Antonio and the Texas Liver Institute, which is located north of downtown, has published in the prestigious Lancet Medical Journal the results of his peer reviewed study showing that a two or three pill completely oral treatment regimen has completely cured 93% of patients who have Heptitis C, which is a blood disease which is mainly transmitted by needle pricks.
"There are 150 million people worldwide, including three million in the United States, who are infected with Hepatitis C," he said. "This is an important virus, and it leads to progressive liver disease."
Dr. Lawitz says that disease leads to numerous consequences.
"Liver cancer, liver failure, and the need for liver transplantation," he said. "In fact, it is the number one cause of the need for liver transplantation today."
Hepatitis C is often called the 'Baby Boomers Disease' because people who were born between 1945 and 1965 are three times more likely than others to have the disease. He says people get it in ways ranging from blood transfusions to dirty needles to tattooing, and since it wasn't identified until the late 1980s, he says there are millions of Americans, mainly Baby Boomers, who have Hepatitis C and don't know it.
Lawitz says currently, the most effective cure requires a combination of injections and up to 18 pills a day, and takes nearly a year. He says the current treatment has very painful and debilitating side effects, and doesn't have a cure rate nearly as high as the 93% his treatment has shown.
Historically, the cure rate for Hepatitis C is less then 50%. He says curing the disease will be a major breakthrough for patients who need very scarce replacement livers.
"Hepatitis C is the number one indication for transplants today," he said. "If we can cure people of Hepatitis C, prevent progressive liver disease and prevent the need for transplants, we can save those livers for people who have other diseases which aren't nearly a curable as Hepatitis C," he said.