What Is Sofosbuvir Used For?

If you have chronic hepatitis C, you may receive sofosbuvir. It is used in combination with other hepatitis C medications to help stop the replication process of this virus. Sofosbuvir is only approved for use in adults. Specific treatment plans vary, but typically last 12 to 48 weeks.

An Overview of Uses for Sofosbuvir

Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi™) is a prescription medication approved to treat chronic hepatitis C infections. It is used in combination with one or two other hepatitis C medications. Unlike some hepatitis C medications, sofosbuvir is taken by mouth.

Using Sofosbuvir for Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver due to an infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). People get hepatitis C by coming into 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 form 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 viruses. These different types 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 about these genotypes, 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. Combination therapy uses more than one medication to try and 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.
In the past, most people were treated with the combination of peginterferon alfa (Pegasys®, PEG-Intron®) and ribavirin (Copegus®, Rebetol®, RibaPak®, Ribasphere®). 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 RNA can be detected in your blood six months after finishing treatment. It is an indication that the infection has been cured.
Sofosbuvir is approved to treat chronic hepatitis C genotype 1, 2, 3, or 4 as follows:
  • Genotype 1 or 4 -- Sofosbuvir plus peginterferon alfa plus ribavirin for 12 weeks
  • Genotype 2 -- Sofosbuvir plus ribavirin for 12 weeks
  • Genotype 3 -- Sofosbuvir plus ribavirin for 24 weeks.
For people with genotype 1 who cannot take peginterferon, a regimen of sofosbuvir plus ribavirin for 24 weeks is acceptable. Sofosbuvir is also approved to be used for up to 48 weeks in people with hepatitis C awaiting liver transplant, to help reduce the risk of reinfecting the new liver.

Sofosbuvir Drug Information

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