KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Hepatitis C is a liver-destroying virus that's most common in baby boomers. Many got it years ago from IV drug use or unsafe sex. Now there's a new drug to cure it.
Four years ago, a physical brought bad news for Bill Barber. He had Hepatitis C, a virus that can cause liver failure, scarring and cancer. Barber tried the standard drugs which included shots of interferon with its bad side effects.
"I was exhausted. I had basically flu-like symptoms all the time," said Barber.
And the treatment wasn't getting rid of Hep C, so he quit. Then Barber got into a study of a pill called sofosbuvir. His doctor calls it revolutionary.
"This drug was specifically designed to go in and stop this Hepatitis C virus from replicating by stopping what's called the RNA which is the genetic structure," said Dr. Bradley Freilich of the Hepatitis Treatment Center at Research Medical Center's Brookside Campus.
Dr. Freilich says depending upon the type of Hep C, the drug can eliminate the need for interferon or shorten by months the time you have to take it. Unlike interferon, sofosbuvir doesn't have severe side effects.
"It dramatically improves the on-treatment experience that people have," said Dr. Freilich.
Sofosbuvir has just received FDA approval. The brand name will be Sovaldi. The cure rate is better than 90 percent. That's about twenty percent higher than with current treatment.
"It means there are people all over this country that are gonna get a chance to live," said Barber. "They pronounced me cured. I have to credit the drug and Dr. Freilich and his staff for saving my life."
Solvaldi will cost about $84,000 to take for three months.
The government now recommends that all baby boomers get tested for Hepatitis C since many don't know they have it.