September 17, 2013 Drug therapy offers new hope to hepatits C patients

Drug therapy offers new hope to hepatits C patients

September 17, 2013
Detroit News

A new drug regimen for liver transplant patients — tried for the first time ever at the University of Michigan Hospital — could bring hope to millions of hepatitis C suffers and the man who received the initial treatment has made it his mission to educate the public about the disease.

Robert Gholston Jr., a 59-year-old General Motors Co. durability test driver from Troy, contracted the hepatitis C virus from a blood transfusion he received after he was hit by a car at age 9. By 2011, it had destroyed his liver, and he received a transplant at U-M Hospital. But within six months, the virus was back — and aggressively attacked his liver.

Dr. Robert Fontana, professor of internal medicine and medical director of liver transplantation at U-M Health System, obtained emergency approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration to give Gholston a treatment that combined two oral antiviral medications, sofosbuvir and daclatasvir.

“Dr. Fontana said, ‘It hasn’t been tested, and if you take this, you’ll be the only one of 7 billion people taking this,’ ” Gholston recalled. “I thought, ‘If I’m the one supposed to test this medication, then so be it.’

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