FRIDAY, Aug. 1, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the Schering-Plough drug Rebetol for treating the hepatitis C virus in children, the manufacturer says.
Used in combination with a type of interferon called Intron A, Rebetol is the only approved pediatric hepatitis C therapy, the company says.
The FDA granted Rebetol its so-called "orphan-drug" designation for rarely diagnosed conditions, since the virus is believed to affect fewer than 200,000 children in the United States.
By contrast, some 4 million American adults have been diagnosed with the infection, and 70 percent are expected to develop chronic liver disease. The virus contributes to the deaths of as many as 10,000 Americans annually -- a number that could triple by the year 2010, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics cited by the drug maker.