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Bon Secours Liver Institute Part of New Era in Treatment and Cure of Hepatitis C Virus

Cure rate 90% for patients in clinical trials for sofosbuvir

Dec. 5, 2013 – Nearly 90 hepatitis C virus patients have taken part in a groundbreaking clinical trial through the Bon Secours Liver Institute of Virginia. The trial focused on a new drug, sofosbuvir, which is pending approval on or before Dec. 8 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Hepatologist Mitchell L. Shiffman, M.D., medical director of Bon Secours Liver Institute of Virginia, has been a primary investigator in the clinical trials of sofosbuvir, a once-daily pill taken in combination with ribavirin to treat chronic hepatitis C in adults with genotype 2 and 3 infection. Sofosbuvir is a nucleotide analogue that interferes directly with the hepatitis C virus in the body, suppressing replication of the virus. The FDA also is expected to approve sofosbuvir combined with interferon and ribavirin to treat chronic hepatitis C in adults with genotype 1 and 4 infection.

As reported in a recent article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, hepatitis C virus now causes more deaths annually than HIV/AIDS. Most people infected with hepatitis C virus do not have symptoms; however, if symptoms do arise they can include fatigue, joint pain, itchy skin, sore muscles and dark urine.

“Sofosbuvir is one of the most promising drugs in the pipeline today, showing both high cure rates and reduced side effects,” said Mitchell L. Shiffman, M.D. “Prior to sofosbuvir, treatment involved numerous, painful injections and many side effects. This combination prevented many patients from seeking treatment. Sofosbuvir has put us on the verge of being able to eradicate hepatitis C virus. This is an enormous public health achievement.”

Shiffman has been working locally, regionally and nationally for decades to cure hepatitis C virus through various clinical trials. The Bon Secours Liver Institute of Virginia also serves patients in the Hampton Roads region, and a number of patients in Hampton Roads have benefited from the sofosbuvir trial as well.

“Dr. Shiffman is one of the few doctors in the nation with experience curing patients with hepatitis C virus,” said Thomas Auer, M.D., CEO of Bon Secours Virginia Medical Group. “Bon Secours Liver Institute of Virginia’s clinical trials have saved lives locally, and we eagerly anticipate FDA approval of sofosbuvir so that others around the country can have the same opportunities as Dr. Shiffman’s patients.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hepatitis C virus is a major public health issue for millions of baby boomers. More than three million Americans are infected with hepatitis C virus, and people born between 1945 and 1965 are five times more likely to have the virus than people in other age groups. As recently as 2012, the CDC recommended routine screenings for baby boomers because three in four people who are infected don’t know they have hepatitis C virus, which over time can cause liver damage and liver cancer, and is the leading cause of liver transplants. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent liver damage.

Dr. Shiffman is recognized internationally as a leader and innovator in the field of hepatology. He has participated in and directed hundreds of clinical trials to develop new and better treatments for liver disease and has published over 250 manuscripts on various aspects of liver disease and its treatment. Recently, Dr. Shiffman gave two lectures on the future of hepatitis C virus treatment at the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology held in San Diego. Both Castle Connolly’s and U.S. News & World Report’s peer rankings place Dr. Shiffman among the top one percent of gastroenterologists in the nation, and he has been recognized by his patients as a Patient’s Choice physician for his expertise in cirrhosis of the liver, liver diseases, liver transplant and treatment for hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus. The Patient’s Choice award is given to only five percent of the nation’s active physicians. To receive this award, a doctor needs to achieve near perfect scores from patients.

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