Jan 25, 2017

New hepatitis C drugs may be more dangerous than you think

Jessica Kourkounis / AP

Drugs approved in recent years that can cure hepatitis C may have severe side effects, including liver failure, according to a new report by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. The report, which the NYT has analyzed in depth, looks at 9 popular antiviral drugs, including the widely used Sovaldi and Harvoni — both made by Gilead Sciences and priced at $1k per pill. The drugs have been successful for many patients in curing the disease within 12 weeks.

Disclaimer: The number of risks appear relatively low, and the findings are not conclusive. But experts say the report is a warning that shouldn't be ignored. Thomas Moore, an author of the report, said the study reflects a larger question about the drug approval process. Approval for the newer hepatitis C drugs was expedited because better treatments were so badly needed.

Why it matters: Hepatitis C drugs like Sovaldi carry a huge price tag, but they've also been a point of pride for the drug industry — since they can cure a disease that wasn't curable before. That, in their view, was a good justification for the price. But if the drugs cause horrible side effects, it may be harder to make that case.

Go deeper

In photos: How coronavirus is impacting cities around the world

Revellers take part in the "Plague Doctors Procession" in Venice on Tuesday night during the usual period of the Carnival festivities, most of which have been cancelled following the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has spread from China to infect people in more than 40 countries and territories around the world, killing over 2,700 people.

The big picture: Most of the 80,000 COVID-19 infections have occurred in mainland China. But cases are starting to surge elsewhere. By Wednesday morning, the worst affected countries outside China were South Korea (1,146), where a U.S. soldier tested positive to the virus, Italy (332), Japan (170), Iran (95) and Singapore (91). Just Tuesday, new cases were confirmed in Switzerland, Croatia and Algeria.

See photosArrow2 hours ago - World

Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

4 takeaways from the South Carolina debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, makes a point during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders listens. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 10th Democratic debate was billed as the most consequential of the primary thus far, but Tuesday night's high-stakes affair was at times awkward and unfocused as moderators struggled to rein in candidates desperate to make one last splash before Saturday's primary in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

The big picture: After cementing himself as the Democratic favorite with a sweeping win in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire as the front-runner for the first time on the debate stage. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next Tuesday, was a progressive foil once again, but he appeared more prepared after taking a drubbing at the Nevada debate.