Health regulators in Europe have issued a new warning regarding the potential for direct-acting antiviral Hepatitis C medications to reactivate a latent Hepatitis B virus. According to December 2nd communication issued by the European Medicines Agency’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC), at least 30 cases of Hepatitis B reactivation have been reported in Europe among patients treated with these drugs.
Direct-acting antivirals reduce the amount of Hepatitis C virus in the body by preventing its replication. In many patients, treatment results in a complete cure. Hepatitis C medications cited by PRAC include:
The Committee has recommended that Hepatitis C infected patients be screened for the Hepatitis B virus prior to starting treatment with any direct-acting antivirals. Patients infected with both viruses should be monitored and current medical guidelines should be followed.
In October, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) mandated that all medications in this class carry a Black Box Warning regarding the risk of Hepatitis B reactivation. Drugs subject to the FDA mandate include:
According to the FDA, 24 cases of Hepatitis B reactivation were reported in patients treated with direct-acting antivirals during the 31-month period running from November 22, 2013 to July 18, 2016. Two patients died and one required a liver transplant. The FDA has advised direct-acting antiviral patients co-infected with Hepatitis C and B to contact their doctor immediately if they develop any of the following symptoms:
Patients should not stop taking their Hepatitis C medication without first talking to their health care professional, as doing so could result in the virus becoming less responsive to certain drugs.