This page explains how the length of treatment time for Hepatitis C effects Hep C treatment outcomes and cure rates
The question of Hepatitis C treatment duration is a very important one. This post explains why many health insurance companies and national health services are going for the treatment time of 8 weeks rather than the more successful treatment time of 12 weeks. It’s not because a shorter Hep C treatment time is the best treatment option for the patient with hepatitis C…. it is because it is the best financial option for the Hep C treatment provider.
If your health insurance or health care provider offers you 8 weeks treatment take it, but seriously consider backing the 8 weeks treatment up with at least an extra 4 weeks treatment using a generic equivalent. Look at it this way. If my maths is correct (not my strong point) 8 weeks treatment means about 1 in 12 people will relapse. 12 weeks treatment means about one in 20 will relapse. In other words doing the extra 4 weeks almost doubles your chance of not relapsing.
Sixteen weeks treatment is better than 12 weeks treatment but not by a huge amount. However it still improves your chance of a cure.
Put simply the evidence suggests that: The longer the treatment time the higher the cure rate.
We do know, from various studies across all genotypes that rates of cure look something like this:
4 Weeks <50%
8 Weeks 90%>
12 Weeks 95%> (+5%)
16 Weeks 97%> (+2%)
20 Weeks 98%> (+1%)
24 Weeks 98.5% > (+0.5%)
So, as you can see, each extra 4 weeks (1 bottle of tablets) adds a little more to the cure rate, but not as much as the bottle before. Mathematically we are looking at approach to a model like this (where the limit value is 100%)
The treatment duration (for mass treatment/population health/cost economics) is picked as a balance between cost and cure rate. For a national health service or a health insurance company 90%+ cure rate for Hepatitis C at a cost of (let’s say) $25,000 makes more sense than a 100% cure rate for $50,000, or double the price .
If you have cirrhosis or a high level of liver fibrosis then you should definitely consider doing the longest treatment time possible to have the highest chance of curing your Hepatitis C. This is something you should discuss with your doctor.
If you have failed a previous Hepatitis C treatment then you should also definitely consider doing the longest treatment time possible. And again it is something that you should discuss with your doctor.
If you have Hepatitis C genotype 3 you should also definitely consider doing the longest treatment time possible. And again it is something that you should discuss with your doctor.
Genotype 3 remains the most difficult to cure in the first instance, and the most difficult to retreat so while it might not make sense for the system to fund 16 week treatments…
For more information on preventing Hepatitis C relapse and on how long you should consider treating with DAAs here is a link to HepMag https://www.hepmag.com/blog/reducing-chance-relapse-treatment-time and also a link to a blog post of mine on the subject