What Is Boceprevir Used For?
As a protease inhibitor, boceprevir is used to help the body get rid of the hepatitis C virus. The medication works by interfering with enzymes that the virus uses to reproduce itself. To enhance the drug's effectiveness, boceprevir is always prescribed with two other medications (ribavirin and peginterferon alfa) as a part of combination therapy.
Boceprevir (VICTRELIS™) is a prescription medication approved to treat chronic hepatitis C genotype 1 infection in adults who have failed previous treatment or who have not been treated for hepatitis C. It belongs to a group of medicines known as protease inhibitors. Boceprevir is only approved for use in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin.
Hepatitis C is inflammation of the liver due to an infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). People get hepatitis C by coming in contact with an infected person's blood (see Hepatitis C Transmission for more information about how the virus is spread).
Once someone is infected with hepatitis C, the infection can be acute or become chronic. In an acute infection, the virus is cleared from the body within a few months. Most of the time, however, the virus is not completely cleared and the infection becomes chronic, or continues for a long time. Chronic hepatitis C can cause liver problems, including liver cirrhosis (scarring), cancer, and liver failure.
There are different types of hepatitis C virus. These are referred to as hepatitis C genotypes. The main hepatitis C genotypes are simply known as genotypes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 (see Hepatitis C Genotypes to learn more, including why it is important to know which genotype is causing the hepatitis infection).
Genotype 1 is the most common genotype in the United States. Between 70 and 90 percent of people in the United States with hepatitis C have a genotype 1 infection.
The standard of care for hepatitis C treatment is the use of combination medication therapy, which uses more than one medication to try to rid the body of the infection.
The goal of hepatitis C treatment is to completely clear the body of the hepatitis C virus. Clearing the virus can ultimately help reduce liver swelling, stop the scarring, and possibly reverse some of the liver damage. It may also reduce the long-term risk of liver cancer.
Most people are treated with the combination of peginterferon alfa (Pegasys®, Peg-Intron®) and ribavirin (Copegus®, Rebetol®). However, less than 50 percent of people achieve a sustained virological response (SVR) with this combination treatment. An SVR means that no hepatitis C virus ribonucleic acid (RNA) can be detected in your blood six months after finishing treatment. It is an indication that the infection has been cured.
Boceprevir is used to treat chronic hepatitis C genotype 1 in people with stable liver problems who have not been previously treated or who have failed previous treatment. It is used in addition to peginterferon alfa and ribavirin.
In clinical studies, almost 70 percent of people given boceprevir in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin achieved an SVR, meaning the hepatitis C virus was no longer detected in the blood 24 weeks after treatment ended, that was superior to that achieved with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin alone.