Newly approved drugs cure Hepatitis C
HOUSTON Elsa Jean Looser is healthy today, and that, she believes, is a miracle because she has been cured of silent killer -- Hepatitis C. One she never knew she had. "He said I want you to promise me you'll go be tested. Do you understand? I never felt bad," Looser said. But her friend, who was dying of Hepatitis C, insisted. "On Sunday he died. On Monday I found out I had it," Looser said. Both had gotten the virus from a contaminated blood transfusions. As the illness progressed, Looser began taking a study drug being tested at Baylor. But it didn't work. "You just think well I've had a few extra years," Looser said. Baylor's Dr. John Vierling offered a new study with a drug called INCIVEK. This time it worked. "I've been cured now almost three years," Looser said. INCIVEK, the drug she took, is one of two new drugs for Hepatitis C. "These new drugs are the forefront of advances; those advances continue," Dr. Vierling said. And now he says it's more important than ever to find Hepatitis C early. "Seventy percent of your audience that might have it have never been diagnosed. And really one of the more important messages because now that we can cure it, it's more important than ever to be diagnosed and find out you have it," Dr. Vierling said. "Anybody who's had a blood transfusion before 1992, I think personally, needs to be checked," Looser said. For the first time, new medicines can actually cure Hepatitis C, giving people like Looser their lives back. Besides the two new medicines approved in May, Dr. Vierling says some 30 new drugs for hepatitis are in the pipeline. For information on Baylor's new hepatitis studies, call Baylor Advanced Liver Therapies at 832-355-8966 or go to the website.