Investigational Medication Well Tolerated in Patients With HCV Who Inject Drugs

Findings are preliminary, but show potential for treating at-risk populations.

An investigational treatment, once-daily grazoprevir and elbasvir (Merck) may be a good option for treating patients who have hepatitis C and are using injection drugs, according to data presented at The Liver Meeting 2015.

Gregord Dore, MD, of the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales in Kensington, Australia, presented recent data from the CO-STAR study, which is a randomized, placebo-controlled study of 301 chronically infected HCV drug-dependent patients with HIV and/or cirrhosis who were being treated with opioid agonists buprenorphine or methadone.

Two hundred and one patients were immediately prescribed a once-daily pill of grazoprevir and elbasvir, while 100 patients were given a placebo followed by active study therapy. No significant difference in adverse effects was seen in either the placebo or treatment groups.

Dr Dore reported that: 79% of patients used drugs during the 12 weeks of antiviral therapy;  99% successfully completed the treatment; and 95% had sustained virologic response. Fve patients were reinfected after treatment, and considering those failures, SVR remained at 92%.

Dr Dore noted in a press release that these results: “convincingly demonstrate the benefits of treating HCV within this population. Such evidence should enhance access to new HCV therapies, including removal of restrictions to access in many settings based on illicit drug use.”

Dr Dore said that while the findings are preliminary, successful treatment of drug-dependent HCV patients would reduce the individual HCV disease burden as well as reduce HCV transmission rates.


1.     Dore G, Altice F, Litwin AH et al. C-EDGE CO-STAR: efficacy of grazoprevir/elbasvir fixed dose combination for 12 weeks in HCV-infected persons who inject drugs on opioid agonist therapy. Presented at: The The Liver Meeting, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Nov. 13-17 2015; San Francisco, CA.