New data presented March 31 at the International Liver CongressTM confirm the antiviral activity of fluvastatin -- commonly used as a cholesterol-lowering treatment -- in patients with chronic hepatitis C (HCV).
Patients had improved early and sustained virological response (EVR and SVR) when treated with the current standard of care -- pegylated Interferon-alpha and ribavirin (PegIFN/RBV) -- and fluvastatin. The results show patients receiving fluvastatin and PegIFN/RBV achieve higher rates of EVR and SVR -- 75.96% and 63.46% -- to those receiving placebo and PegIFN/RBV -- 61.9% and 49.52% respectively.
EASL's Secretary General, Professor Heiner Wedemeyer, said: "We know that metabolic syndrome (MS), the main treatment indication for statins, is associated with severe fibrosis and lower treatment responses in chronic HCV patients. The confirmation that the combination of fluvastatin and PegIFN/RBV could provide better clinical outcomes for those patients with co-morbid chronic HCV and MS is very exciting for clinicians."
Even in patients without MS, the study shows that responses to treatment are still higher in patients treated with fluvastatin and PegIFN/RBV (EVR 85.36% versus 71.42% and SVR 74.39% vs. 58.44).
"Today, healthcare professionals have to be mindful when considering health provision and treatment costs. We cannot overlook the importance of opportunities to maximise more affordable drugs' potential to complement the current standard of care for chronic HCV management," said Professor Wedemeyer.
This new study concludes that the synergistic effects between fluvastatin and PegIFN/RBV shows lipid lowering drugs may favour HCV clearance and be useful as a chronic HCV treatment, irrespective of the presence of metabolic syndrome.
Fluvastatin has previously shown promise as an HCV treatment: a 2008 study of 31 patients found the drug exhibited antiviral activity against HCV, although the authors described the effect as modest, variable, and often short-lived.
Fluvastatin is a statin, a class of drug that improves blood cholesterol levels primarily by inhibiting a liver enzyme called HMG Co-A reductase, thus reducing the liver's ability to make cholesterol.
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