William Balistreri

William Balistreri, MD

The first pediatric study of a combination drug to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) was 100 percent effective, according to an online report in Hepatology.

The antiviral agents ledipasvir and sofosbuvir (marketed as Harvoni®) eliminated the virus in nearly 100 children ages 12 to 17 across the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. 

Each received Harvoni® once daily for 12 weeks, a dosage already proven effective in adults. All but two patients completed treatment and  were “cured,” meaning that HCV was not detected in their blood 12 weeks after treatment. 

HCV infection is increasing in young populations, largely due to increasing use of injected opioids, says William Balistreri, MD, Director Emeritus of the Pediatric Liver Care Center and study lead author. 

“In our area, there has been an increase of more than 350 percent in HCV infection among people 12 to 29 years old, including women of childbearing age who may pass the infection on to their newborn infants.” 

Nearly 80 percent of the children in the study had been infected during the perinatal period.