Hepatitis C Awareness

Getting informed

Hepatitis C drugs offer hope for cure

By Erin Allday

Scientific breakthroughs, one piled on top of another at breakneck speed over the past few years, have put medical researchers on the cusp of curing almost everyone who suffers from hepatitis C, if not wiping out the disease entirely.

With 180 million people in the world thought to be infected with the virus – 12,000 of them in San Francisco alone – that’s potentially a huge public health coup, doctors and scientists say.

In a little more than a decade, a virus that was once almost untreatable could be made nearly extinct.

“It is just a remarkable moment in the history of hepatitis C,” said Dr. Warner Greene, director of the virology and immunology division at the Gladstone Institute in San Francisco. “I think hepatitis C and its sequela – liver cancer, cirrhosis, liver transplants – can largely be gone in the future. We just won’t have to worry about it.”

In the past year, new treatments have come out that already have doubled the number of people who can be cured of hepatitis C. Now the race is on among drug developers to market the first medical cocktails that would cure almost everyone on the planet, and do it safer and faster than the best treatments currently available.

New treatments – both those already available and those expected to be approved in the next five or so years – were a large part of the reason the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended this summer that all Baby Boomers get screened for hepatitis C.

That generation is thought to have the largest number of undiagnosed cases of the disease, with so many of them potentially exposed to the virus in the wild, drug-friendly hippie years of the ’60s and ’70s. Until recently it wasn’t practical to screen millions of people for possible cases of hepatitis C because few good treatments were available.
Hepatitis C’s spread

Hepatitis C is a virus transmitted through the blood, similar to HIV. It’s often spread through shared needles used by intravenous drug abusers. Decades ago, and even still in some developing parts of the world, people were exposed to hepatitis C through unsterilized equipment used for tattoos or surgical procedures. Also, the U.S. blood supply wasn’t screened for hepatitis C until the early 1990s, so people sometimes became infected from a blood transfusion or organ transplant.

In roughly 20 percent of hepatitis C cases, the body’s immune system fights off the virus without any medical intervention and probably without the individual ever being aware of having it. The remaining cases develop into chronic hepatitis C.

In some of those cases, the virus may lie dormant for decades, or even a lifetime, but in about 1 in 5 chronic cases, the virus will attack the liver, scarring it and causing cirrhosis, and potentially leading to liver cancer and liver failure. The infection causes about 10,000 deaths a year in the United States, and it’s the leading reason for liver transplants. Hepatitis C is especially prevalent in people who also have HIV infections; in fact, HIV-positive patients are more likely to die of hepatitis-caused liver disease than of AIDS or HIV.
Antiviral drugs

It’s only in the past seven years or so that doctors and scientists discovered the first antiviral drugs that can stop the virus, giving the body’s natural immune system a chance to fight it off. The cure rate with those drugs is 75 to 80 percent, but they require that patients also take interferon, a toxic medication that can cause disabling side effects for a year.

In the next five years, researchers expect to develop even more potent antiviral medications – drugs that will cure more than 90 percent of patients, and do it in half the time and without the interferon.

“There’s no question that with these new treatments, cure is going to be the rule and not the exception,” said Dr. Brad Hare, medical director of the HIV/AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital, who studies HIV and hepatitis C co-infections. “It’s more important than ever to identify people with hepatitis C, because we have something even better to offer them.”

That said, Hare added, it’s unlikely that the virus will ever be eradicated. There will always remain a pocket of people who don’t respond to drug therapy or aren’t able to take it for some reason. Those who have been cured can be reinfected.

And getting new medications to the tens of millions of people affected by hepatitis C won’t be easy, especially because the drugs will almost definitely be expensive.
Strains on the system

Just screening the millions of Baby Boomers in the United States, and getting those who test positive for hepatitis C into treatment, could be an overwhelming strain on the health care system, public health experts say. Drugs in development could ease some of that burden if they’re easier to take and more effective than the current treatments.

Hepatitis C was discovered in the late 1980s, although scientists had known for years that a virus existed that was causing inflammation in the liver and that wasn’t the hepatitis A or B viruses.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first treatment for hepatitis C – the chemotherapy drug interferon – in 1991, and added a second drug, ribavirin, in 1998. Those two medications were considered a breakthrough therapy for a virus that had previously been untreatable, but the treatment itself was rough and not all that effective.

The ribavirin comes in pill form, but the interferon has to be given intravenously three times a week for 48 weeks. Both drugs, especially the interferon, often come with awful side effects – major depression and, sometimes, suicidal thoughts, plus fatigue, nausea and flu-like symptoms.

And the worst of it is that the treatments lead to a cure only roughly half the time – less than half for patients with the most common strain of hepatitis C.

“A lot of us didn’t have bad symptoms before we went on treatment,” said Daniel Berrner, a San Francisco resident who was diagnosed with both HIV and hepatitis C in 2005, and underwent successful treatment for the latter in 2009. “People maybe feel some fatigue, but that’s it. So to convince them to feel awful for a year when they’re not feeling that bad to begin with is a really hard thing to do.”

Because treatment was, for many people, tougher to endure than the virus itself, many doctors over the years have “triaged” patients by performing liver biopsies or blood tests to determine if hepatitis C was causing severe enough damage to treat even at the risk of failure. If patients weren’t experiencing acute symptoms and their livers seemed relatively healthy, they’d often postpone treatment.
More seek treatment

Whether to get treatment for hepatitis C is still a personal decision and best made after a thoughtful conversation with a primary care doctor or a liver expert, doctors said. But increasingly patients are being encouraged to get treatment, even if their infection isn’t particularly virulent.

“I still try to triage based on the risk of end-stage liver disease. But now more patients are willing to be treated,” said Dr. Natalie Bzowej, a liver disease specialist at California Pacific Medical Center.

Bzowej helped lead national research into one of the first antiviral treatments that targeted hepatitis C, a protease inhibitor called telaprevir made by Vertex Pharmaceuticals, which was approved by the FDA in June 2011. A similar drug, boceprevir from Merck, also won FDA approval last year.

Remarkable success

In clinical trials, about 80 percent of patients with the most common strain of hepatitis C who took one of those drugs, plus the usual interferon and ribavirin combination, were cured. That was a remarkable improvement over the previous 40 to 50 percent cure rate.

Also encouraging: Most of the patients who were cured were able to stop taking the medications after just 24 weeks, cutting the treatment time in half.

The reason for the difference is that the new drugs single out the hepatitis C virus specifically, whereas the interferon and the ribavirin essentially just give a boost to the body’s natural immune system. For many people, the immune system is not strong or fast enough on its own to fight off the virus.

Protease inhibitors are best known as a class of drugs used to treat HIV infection. They work by attacking specific enzymes, or proteases, in a virus that are a key part of the replication process. By inhibiting those enzymes, the virus is unable to reproduce and eventually dies off.

Now, scientists are looking for the next line of drugs to attack other points of the hepatitis life cycle. The pharmaceutical industry is racing toward clinical trials – companies battling to be the first to get new drugs, especially those that would make interferon obsolete, to the market.
Multidrug attack

Doctors and scientists alike expect the first of the new wave of drugs to be available in four or five years. Part of the reason not everyone can be cured of hepatitis C is that, like many viruses, it mutates so quickly and becomes immune to drugs. So ideally, doctors will have at their disposal several drugs – maybe dozens – that will attack the virus on several fronts at once.

If those drugs are strong and fast enough, they could cure patients without the need for interferon. Protease inhibitors and other antiviral drugs aren’t without side effects, but the symptoms are much less severe than those from interferon, and the newest classes of drugs may work in as little as 12 weeks, or about half the time it takes telaprevir, the protease inhibitor, to do the job.

“I feel like we are glimpsing the beginning of the end for hepatitis C,” said Dr. Cami Graham, vice president of global medical affairs at Vertex. “We really are beginning to see what that path to eradication is going to look like.”
Long incubation period

Both drug developers and doctors alike said they are advising patients not to raise their hopes too high. Almost all of the clinical trials are in their earliest stages, and for the Baby Boomers especially, patients with decades-old infections may not have even a few years to wait for new treatments.

“What we have now is better than anything we’ve had in a long time,” said Dr. Joanna Ready, chief of gastroenterology at Kaiser Santa Clara. “What will be even better is interferon-free therapies, and the early studies have been very, very, very promising. But the disease has such a long incubation period and damages the liver over decades, so we really need to be following people over time.

Still, Ready said, she’s hopeful.

“If we don’t wipe out hepatitis C entirely, we can probably make it go away like polio, where you haven’t gotten rid of it but you’ve really beaten it down,” she said. “The science behind these treatments is improving every day. And the more we know, the better we are at treating it.”

Erin Allday is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: eallday@sfchronicle.com

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Recording Hepatitis C: A Patient’s Treatment Journal

Recording Hepatitis C: A Patient’s Treatment Journal

Copyright © 2012 National Public Radio. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Ana Johnson of San Marcos, Texas, underwent treatment for hepatitis C last year. She believes she contracted the disease after receiving a blood transfusion during a C-section. Johnson lived with the diagnosis for 17 years before seeking treatment. She says her mind changed because her treatment options changed.

ANA JOHNSON: At that time, Melissa, the treatment for what I have is called a 1B. And 1A and 1B are the most prevalent in the United States and they are what’s called hard to treat, hard to cure. So I would’ve had to have gone into a treatment that was 48 weeks long with about a 30 percent chance of a cure. And to me, that was not an option and I just kept holding out for something better to come along.

BLOCK: And ultimately, something did.

JOHNSON: Ultimately, it did and it came out last year. And for us hard to treat, 1A, 1Bs, there is a treatment now that is an 80 percent cure rate.

BLOCK: And you’re done with your treatment and doctors have told you you are cured, right?

JOHNSON: I am 20 – I am past my 24-week post treatment mark and at that point, you are pretty much considered cured. And I came back with that, what they call, undetectable and that was one of the greatest days of my life.

BLOCK: When you decided to go forward with the treatment for hepatitis C, Ana, was that a hard decision to make? What changed your mind?

JOHNSON: Well, we have a unique situation in our household. My husband’s first wife, Mary, she as well had hepatitis C and Mary was diagnosed with cancer, liver cancer, which is one of the side effects, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and those are one of the things that we have to be tested for on a yearly basis. And Mary died from complications two years ago. And that was something I watched very closely with his three children.

And right about that same time, the new triple therapy came out and with a shorter treatment option. It used to be 48 weeks. My treatment was 29 weeks and the cure rate went from 30 percent to 80 percent. And I was in.

BLOCK: The treatment regimen, as we heard in Jon Hamilton’s piece, is quite grueling, can be really taxing on the body. Describe what it was like for you. What was your experience?

JOHNSON: Well, grueling is a really good way to put that. The side effects are flu-like symptoms. And when they say flu-like symptoms, they mean flu-like symptoms. I had fever for about six months of my treatment, which was managed with ibuprofen. The treatment causes a lot of anemia, so the fatigue, the weight loss, the mouth sores, the weakness. Let’s just say that, Melissa, I’m very athletic and in celebration of finishing my treatment, I did a 75-mile ride with my husband the other day.

And during treatment, I could not walk to the mailbox.

BLOCK: But you were convinced as you were going through this treatment that there was a positive outcome in store for you and that it was worth it.

JOHNSON: I believe, based on what I watched with Mary, the disease is either going to take your life or you’re going to beat it. So those are your options.

BLOCK: Ana, I was watching a bunch of video blogs that you posted on YouTube during the course of your treatment. What compelled you to do that? Who were you speaking to as you described what you were going through, what the effects were?

JOHNSON: Melissa, that video blog began because prior to going into treatment, I just had this need to look into the eyes of somebody who was ahead of me, somebody who had endured and the only thing I could find online was very, very scary stuff. And I decided to do a video blog based on the truth. And the support in the community that came out of that is absolutely mind-blowing.

I actually had a handful of people contact me and tell me that I am the only one they’ve ever shared that they have hepatitis C because there is such a stigma that surrounds the virus, the disease.

BLOCK: Walk me through just sort of what that stigma is.

JOHNSON: The stigma is that there is this idea that you had to be an IV drug user, Melissa. And I’m going to give you a story about one of the gastroenterologists that I was considering using for treatment and he asked me a few things, if I’d had an early tattoo and I had received blood.

And when I gave him the example of receiving blood when I had given birth to my child, he sat there with me and began to almost play with me in this way. He was like, no IV drug use? And I said, no, I was not an IV drug user. And he said, come on, maybe just one wild night at some point.

And that’s when my husband stepped in because the look on my face was – I had nothing to say. And he stepped in and said, I believe we’re here for a cure. So even the doctor was trying to convince me to admit to him that that I was an IV drug user.

(LAUGHTER)

JOHNSON: And I believe if you were, that’s OK. It’s OK. It’s just now we have a cure, get well. You can be well.

BLOCK: Ana Johnson, thank you for talking with us.

JOHNSON: You bet.

BLOCK: Ana Johnson of San Marcos, Texas, she went underwent successful treatment for hepatitis C last year.

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Hepatitis C Global Initiatives

To: Supporters for The Cure for Hepatitis C — Why We Started Our Petition

APRIL 2012 – Bristol-Myers Squibb and Gilead Sciences tell the world they have the CURE for Hepatitis C. According to the results released at the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), this CURE was obtained by combining daclatasvir and GS-7977. Results showed this drug-combination CURED 100% of genotype 1, and 91% of genotype 2/3… WITHOUT ribavirin OR interferon!

Shortly thereafter, Gilead Sciences announces there will be NO further collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb to make this CURE available to the millions who are suffering and dying with hepatitis C. Gilead Sciences gave some very lame reasons for NOT continuing this collaboration, such as, they were waiting to see if the people in the trials were still clear of HCV more than four weeks after end of treatment. Now the results SIX MONTHS after end of treatment (SVR24) have been released and all the people in the trials who were CURED remain free and clear of this virus!

Perhaps the lamest excuse offered by Gilead Sciences was their need to justify the $11 billion spent buying Pharmasset for the rights to GS-7977. Their plan seems to be to try and put GS-7977 with Ribavirin and/or interferon. We DON’T WANT ribavirin OR interferon. Those two drugs have destroyed the lives of many people with their wretched and debilitating side effects. Just read the “reasons for signing” here on this petition to see how interferon and/or ribavirin has destroyed people’s lives forever.

Gilead’s other plan seems to be trials of their unproven GS-5885 with GS-7977, in hopes it can prove to be as effective as daclatasvir was when combined with GS-7977. WHY??? Why delay and keep “looking for the cure”, when you have already FOUND IT!

Gilead Sciences please listen! Right now only 3% of us treat because we do not want to risk what little quality of life we have by subjecting ourselves to the long, brutal treatment with interferon or ribavirin. Gilead Sciences if you will make the life-saving combination of GS-7977 and daclatasvir available to us now, as much as 85 to 95% of us are likely to treat! You will make your $11 billion back in no time, thereby making your investors/shareholders happy beyond their wildest dreams. AND you will be giving MILLIONS of people with Hepatitis C and their families, the chance for a life and a future WITHOUT Hepatitis C.

Gilead Sciences: We want the CURE for Hepatitis C and you HOLD the KEY! Please, we beg you, OPEN the DOOR. And open it NOW.

Over 170 million people have hepatitis C.

Left untreated, it can progress to cirrhosis and/or liver cancer.

Hepatitis C is now the leading cause for liver transplant

Hepatitis C now kills more people than AIDS. It kills over 350,000 people a year.

To the people out there who have this disease or have a loved one with hepatitis C, let Gilead Sciences KNOW we and our families are desperate for this CURE! You do that by continuing to ask everyone you know to sign this petition, put it on Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. Call your congressmen, senators, public media, ANYONE you can think of. Surely, if we are LOUD ENOUGH, Gilead Sciences will SOON HEAR US.

We grow larger everyday…we have people across the world now helping us. We cannot STOP….we will NOT STOP! Our very lives depend on it. So we URGE each and every one of you to continue until we have The Cure.

Warmest regards,

Margaret Dudley
HCV Sufferer & Advocate for The Cure
Texas HCV Coalition for The Cure

P.S. At least 80 people died from HCV in the time it took to compose and send this letter. http://www.change.org/petitions/gilead-sciences-please-collaborate-with-bristol-myers-for-the-cure-for-hepatitis-c-now?utm_source=supporter_message&utm_medium=email

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Meds Stop HCV Tx Blues

By Nancy Walsh, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: July 19, 2012
Reviewed by Dori F. Zaleznik, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner

Prophylactic antidepressant treatment of patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) undergoing antiviral therapy cut the incidence of depression in that population almost in half,a randomized study found. Among patients receiving escitalopram (Lexapro), during treatment with pegylated interferon-alpha and ribavirin, 32% (95% CI 21 to 43) developed mild-to-moderate depression compared with 59% (95% CI 48 to 69) of those receiving placebo (P<0.001), according to Martin Schaefer, MD, of Kliniken Essen-Mitte in Essen, Germany, and colleagues.

In addition, major depression was diagnosed in 8% (95% CI 4 to 15) of patients receiving the
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) compared with 19% (95% CI 12 to 28) of those given
placebo (P=0.031), the researchers reported in the July 17 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

The high incidence of depression — which can reach 70% — occurring in patients receiving interferon
has posed a serious barrier to the successful treatment of HCV, but previous efforts to establish a
role for prophylaxis with antidepressant medications have been limited and largely confined to
patients with pre-existing psychiatric disorders.

Accordingly, Schaefer and colleagues conducted a multicenter trial in which they enrolled 181
patients with HCV, none of whom had previously been diagnosed with depression or other
psychiatric problems.

The trial was preceded by a 3-month observation period, following which patients with genotypes 1
or 4 were treated with interferon and ribavirin for 48 weeks and those with genotypes 2 or 3 received
treatment for 24 weeks.

The antidepressant or placebo was begun 2 weeks before the HCV treatment was initiated.
Depression was diagnosed according to the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale
(MADRS), with a score of 13 or greater indicating depression of mild-to-moderate severity and a
score of 25 or higher suggesting severe symptoms.

There was an absolute risk difference for mild-to-moderate depression of 27 percentage points
between the groups, and a number needed to treat of 3.7 (P<0.001), the researchers reported.

Severe depression developed in 1% (95% CI 0.3 to 6) of the escitalopram group and in 12% (95% CI
7 to 21) of the placebo group.

Risk factors for depression identified on multivariable analysis included baseline MADRS score
(P<0.001) and female sex (P=0.027).

Depression scores did increase in both escitalopram and placebo groups during the course of
interferon treatment, but less so in the antidepressant group, with mean differences of 2.8 points
(95% CI 0.9 to 4.7, P=0.004) at week 12 and 3.1 points (95% CI 1.1 to 5.1, P=0.002) at week 24.

Health-related quality of life also was better among patients receiving the antidepressant, the
researchers noted.

Sustained virologic response was seen in 46% (95% CI 37 to 57) of the placebo patients and in 56%
(95% CI 46 to 66, P=0.21) of the escitalopram group.

Rescue treatment with mirtazapine (Remeron), permitted by the treating psychiatrist in the case of
severe depression, was needed by 3% and 18% of patients in the active treatment and placebo
groups, respectively.

The overall rate of adverse events was 87% in the placebo group and 74% in the escitalopram
group; 6% of patients in each group withdrew from the study because of adverse events.

Significant differences were seen, however, for fatigue (61.1% in the placebo group versus 48% in
the escitalopram group, P=0.040) and insomnia (53.3% versus 37.7%, P=0.015), side effects
commonly found troublesome by patients receiving anti-HCV therapy.

The rationale for using SSRIs in this context is based on serotonergic changes in patients receiving
interferon, and a previous study found a decrease in symptoms of depression in HCV patients with
treatment.

However, whether prophylaxis or “treat-as-needed” would be the more appropriate strategy has been unclear.

“Considering our trial’s high efficacy in preventing depressive symptoms, as well as the good tolerability of escitalopram, our findings show good reasons to favor a preventive strategy for [interferon]-associated depression,” observed Schaefer and colleagues.

Limitations of the study included its lack of power to detect differences in virologic response, its exclusion of patients with psychiatric comorbidities, and withdrawal of some patients during the observation period, which weakened the randomization process.

The study results may have broader implications, however.

“Given the current and future treatment options for [pegylated interferon-alpha] in gastroenterology, dermatology, and oncology and the burden of treatment-associated depression, our study’s findings are highly relevant for improving and optimizing the safety and tolerability of [interferon-alpha] treatment,” they stated.

The study was funded by Roche Pharma and Lundbeck.

Primary source: Annals of Internal Medicine
Source reference:
Schaefer M, et al “Escitalopram for the prevention of peginterferon-α2a-associated depression in hepatitis C virus-infected patients without previous psychiatric disease: A randomized trial” Ann Intern Med 2012; 157:94-104.

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Hepatitis: Look around you, one in every dozen has it

Hepatitis: Look around you, one in every dozen has it.

Filed under: Hepatitis C Awareness

Scientists Develop Nanoparticle Which Completely Destroys Hepatitis C

Scientists Develop Nanoparticle Which Completely Destroys Hepatitis C
by Jamie Condliffe
Jul 19, 2012 8:40 AM
Gizmodo

Scientists Develop Nanoparticle Which Completely Destroys Hepatitis CHepatitis C now kills more Americans than HIV and, while there’s increasing progress towards finding a reliable vaccine, results can’t come soon enough. Now, researchers have developed a nanoparticle that effectively eradicates hepatitis C 100 percent of the time.

Researchers from the University of Florida have developed what they call a “nanozyme”. Based around gold nanoparticles, these things have their surface coated with two biological agents. One is an enzyme that attacks and kills the mRNA which allows hep C to replicate, while the other is a short string of DNA which identities the disease and sends the enzyme off to kill it.

While current hep C treatments attack the same replication process, they only work on about 50 percent of patients treated. In lab-based tests, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Univeristy of Florida researchers showed that their approach was 100 percent effective in both cell cultures and mice. They observed no side effects in the mouse models, either.

While it’s great news, such a treatment is some way off becoming available to patients any time soon. All targeted drugs have to be extremely carefully tested, as there’s always a risk that they could also end up targeting healthy parts of the body by accident. Given the current problems posed by hepatitis C, though, that testing can’t happen soon enough. [PNAS via IEEE Spectrum]

Image by Andres Rueda under Creative Commons license

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Join HEP to help raise awareness for hepatitis on World Hepatitis Day. We will be handing out information and speaking with members of the public about hepatitis. We are also planning to be screening people for hepatitis C from 10am – 12pm.

At 12pm sharp, we need participants to help us set a Guinness World Record by having the most people performing the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”… actions in 24 hours at multiple venues around the world. The action will symbolize hepatitis as a silent, invisible disease.

World Hepatitis Day is an annual event that each year provides international focus for patient groups and people living with hepatitis B and C. It is an opportunity around which interested groups can raise awareness and influence real change in disease prevention and access to testing and treatment.

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Hepatitis C outbreak

* Hepatitis outbreak* July 27, 201* By: Anne Hart

How’s the USA dealing with the latest Hepatitis C liver-damaging virus outbreak allegedly traced to a 33-year old lab technician accused of infecting patients with hepatitis C at a New Hampshire hospital–but only at the times he worked there in a specific hospital location? A male lab technician, worked at an Arizona hospital for 11 days before the police found him unconscious and intoxicated in a hotel room scattered with prescription pills.

Before the present employment in the Arizona hospital, he’d worked as a traveling lab technician in at least eight states after working at a New Hampshire hospital where 30 patients contracted hepatitis C. The male lab technician also is being accused of infecting patients with hepatitis C at the New Hampshire hospital, according to a July 26, 2012 CNN news article, “Man accused in hepatitis C outbreak was fired from Arizona hospital.”

Employers fired him from his lab technician job in Arizona two years ago after he tested positive for cocaine and marijuana use, according to the CNN news article. The lab technician is named in the CNN and the Miami Herald news articles. Also check out the latest YouTube video on the hepatitis C outbreak, “More join lawsuit in hepatitis C outbreak.”

The suspect wrote a suicide note six days before his arrest

A suicide note also has been found, allegedly written by the traveling medical technician, according to a July 27, 2012 Miami Herald news report, “Suspect in hepatitis C outbreak wrote suicide note,” which names the man. He’s accused of causing a hepatitis C outbreak in New Hampshire. His suicide note allegedly written the week before his arrest notes that he “couldn’t handle this stress anymore,” according to a police report. The Associated Press Writer Paul Davenport in Phoenix, Arizona also contributed to the Miami Herald news article.

Last week the police in Marlborough, Massachusetts arrested the man, at a Massachusetts hospital named in the CNN and the Miami Herald news articles. New details have since come forth about is recent past as police investigate the past five years of his work history.

Connecting him to hepatitis C cases in other states may be difficult to prove

Researchers and investigators will have to show the connection between tests of people possibly exposed to hepatitis C back in 2009 and 2010 and the incidences when the lab technician worked in two Arizona hospitals two and three years ago. The tests may be able to show whether those patients have the disease but not how they got it.

Since hepatitis C keeps mutating once it’s in a human body, it’s difficult to prove from who the virus was contracted. Also investigators have no idea when the lab technician became infected or how he caught hepatitis C. What the police do know is that he first found out that he had hepatitis C only two months ago when he was diagnosed. But investigators say the lab technician had hepatitis C for at least two years.

As a traveling lab technician, he worked in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania before being hired by Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire in April 2011. The lab technician is not only accused of allegedly infecting patients with hepatitis C in the various states in which he worked for the past two years, but he’s also accused of allegedly taking anesthetics from the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab. He’s additionally accused of allegedly contaminating syringes that have been used on patients.

The police are holding the lab technician on federal drug charges. But the lab technician claims he did not steal or use drugs in spite of the fact that the Marlborough police report includes a list of six prescription drugs that were found in his hotel room. The latest news on the lab technician is the finding of his suicide note by the police. The note reads, “please call Kerry and let her know I passed away. Tell her I couldn’t handle this stress anymore.”

The lab technician is accused of allegedly spreading the disease to 30 patients at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire.

For the past five years the lab technician traveled and worked on a contract basis for hospitals in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania. The health issue is that there have been hundreds or thousands of patients who may have come in contact with him to be tested for hepatitis C. The hepatitis outbreak is causing fear in any patients who may have had contact with him. The main fear is of being tested with used syringes and other ways that a technician testing the blood of others makes contact with patients.

The lab technician has been treated for the disease. People catch hepatitis C from contact with contaminated blood, most often via shared needles. The main problem is that police say the lab technician injected himself with painkillers meant for patients when he worked at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire and left the syringes for reuse. Patients fear the use of used needles and other equipment such as the syringe that holds the contaminated blood being withdrawn for testing.

The conflict is that the lab technician reported to investigators that he only found out for the first time that he had contracted hepatitis C in May 2012. The U.S. Attorney claims the lab technician knew he had hepatitis C as early as June 2010.

He was found red handed in one hospital in possession of syringes and needles

Back on April 1, 2010, the lab technician was found unresponsive in the men’s locker room at Arizona Heart Hospital “in possession of syringes and needles,” according to the written statement from the hospital. The finding resulted in a drug test in the emergency room. When the drug test came out positive, the police were called and the Phoenix hospital canceled his contract with a staffing agency.

Lab technicians who travel to various states and sometimes live in hotels may often find their jobs through staffing agencies that handle traveling or temporary lab technician jobs and various other traveling health-related employment. The lab technician only worked at that hospital for 11 days, according to the CNN news article, “Man accused in hepatitis C outbreak was fired from Arizona hospital.” Presently the hospital is trying to find the patients who visited the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab at the time the lab technician worked there for the 11-day period.

Check out the CNN news article for a list of the hospitals he worked at in the various states. In the meantime, the lab technician has been charged with with obtaining controlled substances by fraud and tampering with a consumer product, namely a hospital syringe, according to an affidavit filed in federal court. Also he is suspected of allegedly stealing fentanyl, a powerful analgesic that is substantially more potent than morphine, according to the CNN news article which obtained the information from an affidavit.

To learn more about hepatitis C and how it differs from other forms of hepatitis, check out the government site, What I need to know about Hepatitis C – National Digestive Diseases. Hepatitis C is a liver disease. Hepatitis * means inflammation of the liver. Inflammation is the painful, red swelling that results when tissues of the body become injured or infected. Inflammation can cause organs to not work properly.

Filed under: Hepatitis C Awareness, , , , , ,

Liver disease on the rise | Mark Menzies MP

Liver disease on the rise | Mark Menzies MP.

Filed under: Hepatitis C Awareness, , , ,

Daily Times – Leading News Resource of Pakistan – Barbershops, quacks playing havoc with health of twin cities’ residents

Daily Times – Leading News Resource of Pakistan – Barbershops, quacks playing havoc with health of twin cities’ residents.

Filed under: Hepatitis C Awareness