Doctors now have an important new medication to treat chronic Hepatitis B by suppressing viral replication and the risk of developing liver disease. A distinguished group of medical experts who have met in Bali, Indonesia, to fortify the fight against Hepatitis B, one of Asia Pacifics most threatening chronic diseases, have announced the new treatment.
This is good news for the 350 million people worldwide who have developed chronic Hepatitis B infection and even more encouraging news for the Asia Pacific region because around 300 million of those infected with the virus live there.
This latest treatment option is entecavir, which is considered the most potent oral antiviral drug for Hepatitis to date. Based on data from three studies presented at the Bali meeting, entecavir was found to be superior or comparable to lamivudine, another Hepatitis B drug, in a wide variety of patients chronically infected with Hepatitis B virus.
The study comprised patients with compensated liver disease who were starting antiviral treatment for the first time (nucleoside-naive); had received prior antiviral treatment (other than entecavir); and those who were refractory to lamivudine. After one year of treatment, another study found that there was no evidence of resistance to entecavir in the nucleoside-naive Hepatitis B patient group.
Phase 3 studies analyzed the efficacy of entecavir in treating a variety of patients with chronic Hepatitis B infection. Among them were both Hepatitis B e-antigen (HBeAg) positive and HbeAg negative nucleoside-naive patients and lamivudine-refractory patients.
Launched in the USA earlier this year by Bristol-Myers Squibb under the name Baraclude, entecavirs launch in the Asia Pacific region seems imminent. It only remains to be seen how soon the drug is introduced in the regions markets.