What is Harvoni?

What is Harvoni?



Harvoni®, widely known as an effective medication to treat Hepatitis C, has been approved in many regions of the globe to provide relief to patients of Hepatitis C; a serious infection of liver. The medication is a combination of two drugs- ledipasvir and sofosbuvir- that have been mixed together into a single pill.

Patients of Hepatitis C are usually recommended to take a pill of Harvoni® everyday for an average of 12 weeks. Although, the drug has been found effective against the infection in many medical trials, it comes with some side-effects that could be noticed in a few patients.

Hepatitis C is an infection in the liver caused by the presence of the virus called HCV or hepatitis C virus. Just as there are different blood groups, this disease is also categorized into genotypes numbered from 1 through 6. According to statistics, about 75% of the HCV affected patients have are diagnosed with the genotype 1 HCV. There are no vaccinations available in the case HCV and can only be prevented from cautious activities when near already affected patients. It can be prevented by avoiding contact with infected fluids, or sharing needles as the disease can spread through physical contact.

There are many drugs that are prescribed by specialists who treat for HCV. One among those is harvoni® which is a suitable drug for HCV genotypes 1, 4, 5 and 6. HARVONI® is a combination of two antiviral medications named ledipasvir and sofosbuvir. These prevent the multiplication of the Hepatitis C virus within the body.

Before the physician is prescribing the medicine to HCV affected person, he/she will consider several factors like the treatment history in case he has already been treated for this disease, level of virus within the body, allergies to any of the components in the drug and extent of damage to the liver. In case this medicine has to be combined with another drug called ribavirin, it might affect pregnancy. The drug when prescribed separately does not affect the unborn baby and does not pass on to the infants through breast milk. Also it is not researched whether this drug is safe for children below the age of 18 years. The prescribed dosage for the drug is one pill a day and the most commonly suggested treatment cycle is a period of 12 weeks and the patients is advised to take the medicine at the same time every day.

What Is Harvoni®, How It Works, And How To Take It?

Harvoni, a combination of ledipasvir and sofosbuvir, is a prescription medicine that patients of chronic Hepatitis C could take to treat the infection. In a number of clinical studies, it has been found that Hepatitis C patients who took Harvoni® were cured more early than others. The studies have also indicated that the cure rate of the medicine is over 90% in patients who are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1. Some of the studies even suggested that the medicine could also be used in case of HCV genotype 3 and 4.

How Harvoni® Works?

Harvoni is a combination of two antiviral drugs that work during various steps of hep C lifecycle to eliminate its effects on the patient’s body. Being nucleotide analogue HCV polymerase inhibitor, the Sofosbuvir medication targets the polymerase enzyme, NS5B RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, and blocks it from reproducing the virus. The second drug, Ledipasvir, aims at another protein, NS5A, and stops the spread of chronic infection.

How Effective Is Harvoni?

Although Harvoni® is the only available cure to treat chronic hepatitis C, it could be found effective depending on a patient’s condition and their response to the medication. To find it effectiveness, several factors, such as HCV genotype, patient history and liver condition, are considered.
The trials have showed that a 12-week course helped many hepatitis C sufferers, but it is also believed that the positive effects of Harvoni® could be different in the real-world conditions.

How To Take Harvoni®?

Harvoni® is an effective treatment, but there are some measures to take it. The medicine may have various kinds of side-effects, so it is necessary to consult a doctor before taking it. In addition, it is also important to receive treatment at a hospital or a doctor who has experience in treating hepatitis C patients.

Avoid Taking Other Drugs With Harvoni®

If you are going to begin your treatment for Hepatitis C with Harvoni®, it is important that you inform your doctor about any other medication including prescription and non-prescription drugs that you are taking. This is a vital factor as taking one medication along with another may lead to drug interaction, causing further complications. When other drugs interact with Harvoni®, it can affect the absorption or effect of these drugs on the body, leading to either an increase or decrease in the level of one or both the drugs in the body. Thus, the effectiveness of these drugs may hamper because of unregulated use.

Though these drugs may broadly include all herbs, street drugs, supplements, and so on, some particular examples of them include: HIV medication such as combination of tipranavir and ritonavir, Stribild; Tuberculosis medication including rifampin; medication for treating irregular heartbeat- amiodarone; anti-seizure medication including phenobarbital, carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), and oxcarbazepine (Trileptal); medication for lowering cholesterol including rosuvastatin; medicinal herbs such as St. John’s wort; or even some drugs for Hepatitis C such as simeprevir. Additionally, antacids, medicines for treating ulcers, heartburn, or indigestion (nizatidine, esomeprazole, pantoprazole, etc) and HIV drugs (tenofovir with darunavir or atazanavir), and so on may lead to some major drug interactions and should thus be avoided.

It is thus advised to duly keep your doctor or pharmacist informed about any other condition that you are suffering from and any additional medication that you are taking to avoid any complications while starting your treatment with Harvoni®. It is also advised to consult a single pharmacist for all your medications to avoid complexity.

Resistance to drug

Some patients may face another complication while taking Harvoni® wherein the Hepatitis C virus resists the drug in the body, leading to a decrease in effectiveness of the drug. This resistance is the result of the mutilation or change of the virus during its replication process. Though this is a rare occurrence, people should still ensure that they follow the prescription of medicines exactly as prescribed by the doctor to avoid such complication or ineffectiveness of the drug.

Availability of Harvoni®

Gilead Sciences, a leading pharmaceutical company that produces Harvoni®, provides low-cost Harvoni® through various pharmacies. Health Canada has also approved the medication provided by them and thus can be found in the pharmacies of Canada. Your doctor can guide you about the pharmacies that provide Harvoni®.

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