Hepatitis C Treatment in a Non-Specialist Setting

Hepatitis C treatment administered in a community-based setting proven to be safe and effective.

A new study finds that patients can receive treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) in a non-specialist setting.

According to a study presented at The International Liver Congress 2016, roughly 2% of adults have HCV.

"With such a large patient cohort, ensuring that patients can access safe, effective and appropriate treatment is essential," said Sarah Kattakuzhy, MD, in a press release. "Currently, the limited availability of experienced specialists restricts rapid expansion of hepatitis C treatment, compromising the goal of global eradication. As such, care models which bypass this therapeutic bottleneck must be explored."

This study assessed HCV patients at community health centers in the United States.

Patients received non-randomized treatment from a specialist provider, primary care physician, or nurse practitioner. All care providers underwent a 3-hour training to ensure they knew the guidelines of administering the treatment.

All patients received the same treatments with direct-acting antivirals and their results were assessed by HCV RNA viral load 12 weeks after the completion of treatment (SVR12).

Of 304 patients, investigators found that 285 patients achieved SVR12 and there were no significant difference in results between care providers.

The goal was met by 92.1% of patients treated by specialists, 96.7% of patients treated by primary care physicians, and 94.9% of patients treated by nurse practitioners.

"The data presented here is extremely welcome and shows great potential to escalate treatment options and protocols for hepatitis C. We have the therapies, we now need to make sure we can effectively roll them out to patients," Tom Hemming Karlsen, MD, PhD, said. "We know we have too few experienced specialists treating HCV and this is severely hampering our ability to eradicate this disease once and for all. This research has the potential to be a genuine game changer in the way we look at HCV treatment across the board, and could provide the opportunity to increase access to care and treatment to many regions of the world."