Direct-acting antiviral agents used to treat patients with the hepatitis C virus are not associated with higher rates of adverse liver, kidney, and cardiovascular events, according to research published in JAMA Network Open and supported by data from Kaiser Permanente Northern California.
The findings offer reassurance for patients who need the therapy, which rids the body of hepatitis C, said Kaiser Permanente Division of Research scientist Michael Silverberg, PhD, MPH, a study co-author.
“We were able to dive deeper into the question of hepatitis treatment safety than anyone else could have given the large sample size, comprehensive data, and sophisticated analytical approach,” Silverberg said. The study used data from Kaiser Permanente Northern California and Southern California, and from the University of Florida College of Medicine. “The comparison across three diverse settings, including Florida, which has a different model of care, really helps strengthen the findings.”
Direct-acting antivirals became available in 2013 and were seen as a breakthrough for the 2.4 million American identified as being infected with hepatitis C virus. Potential safety concerns were later raised about the possibility of liver injury and liver failure.
The researchers found no evidence of higher rates of 12 adverse events among hepatitis C patients taking direct-acting antivirals than among hepatitis C patients who did not take the newer drugs. In fact, those taking the antivirals had lower rates of hospitalization and emergency department use.