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Fluvastatin May Be Helpful in Chronic Hepatitis C

Drug associated with some suppressive effects on virus, might be useful with standard therapy

THURSDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Fluvastatin appears to be safe for lowering cholesterol in chronic carriers of hepatitis C virus, and the drug may actually exert an antiviral effect, according to research published in the April issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Ted Bader, M.D., of the Veteran's Administration Medical Center and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, and colleagues analyzed data from two small prospective studies to assess the safety of fluvastatin in these patients and observe changes in their viral load while using the drug. In total, 31 subjects, aged 44 to 61, took 20 to 320 milligrams daily for two to 12 weeks.

In the first study, all patients on the 80-milligram dose responded, and two out of three had a significant reduction in viral load. In the second study, overall, 50 percent of subjects taking 80 mg daily or less showed lower viral RNA. In most of these patients, the first lowering occurred within a month.

"Fluvastatin used as monotherapy in vivo showed suppressive effects on hepatitis C virus clinically that are modest, variable and often short-lived. These findings, along with other data suggesting synergism with α-interferon, support 'proof-of-concept' for trials combining fluvastatin with standard pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Statins, and fluvastatin in particular, appear to be safe for use in patients chronically infected with hepatitis C virus. When needed, hepatitis C virus patients should no longer be denied the hypocholesterolemic effects of statins," the authors write.

Bader, along with the VA and the University of Oklahoma, has filed a patent for using statins in hepatitis C.

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