Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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A BI-WEEKLY PUBLICATION FROM THE CEDARS-SINAI CHIEF OF STAFF Oct. 14, 2011 Issue | Archived Issues

Lunch on Us

Annual Medical Staff Meeting is Oct. 24

Chief of Staff Scott Karlan, MD, will discuss the climate of change at the medical center and President and CEO Thomas M. Priselac will speak at the lunch meeting, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24, in Harvey Morse Auditorium.

The 2011 Pioneer in Medicine Award will be presented along with the Chief of Staff Award.

Annual Meeting of the Medical Staff (PDF)


P&T Committee Approvals Released

Pharmacy Focus

Click the PDF below to review the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee's September approvals.

P&T Decisions September 2011 (PDF)


Meetings and Events


Grand Rounds

Click here to view upcoming Grand Rounds.


Upcoming CME Conferences

Click below to view a complete list of all scheduled Continuing Medical Education conferences.

CME Newsletter - October 2011 (PDF)

Share Your News

Won any awards or had an article accepted for publication? Share your news about professional achievements and other items of interest.

Click here to share your news

Two-thirds of Hepatitis C Patients Can See Cure in the Half the Time, New Study Finds

Research Corner

Treatment with a telaprevir-based combination regimen for hepatitis C - until now a chronic, destructive and difficult to manage disease - effectively can be shortened to six months in about two-thirds of patients, finds a new study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Fred Poordad, MD, chief of Hepatology and Liver Transplantation at Cedars-Sinai, was senior author on the study.

Telaprevir, a drug approved for use against hepatitis C in May, inhibits replication of virus. This anti-viral drug and a similar medication called boceprevir have nearly doubled the number of patients with sustained response. Among patients treated with telaprevir, pegylated interferon and ribavirin in the new study, 72 percent were cured of their hepatitis C.

This study shows that two-thirds of patients can be cured in half the time: Patients who are clear of the virus within the first four to 12 weeks of therapy effectively can cut their treatment time from 48 weeks to six months. Besides the considerable benefits to patients of shorter treatment, these findings also show that response-guided therapy is a successful strategy.

"This means that rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, we can individualize treatment for patients based on their specific response to the drugs," Poordad said. "Once you're cured by these anti-viral drugs, you’re cured of hepatitis C completely. That's a little known fact among the public – and even among physicians who don't regularly treat liver disease."

Cedars-Sinai is one of the major research sites investigating new treatments for hepatitis C; the medical center is involved in developing most of these new compounds. Earlier this year, Poordad was the lead author of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on the anti-viral drug boceprevir, also an oral protease inhibitor. In that study, 1,097 patients with hepatitis C who had never been treated for the virus received standard treatment - pegylated interferon and ribavirin - for four weeks. Then, a third of the patients continued only on those drugs, while two other groups also received different durations of boceprevir. The boceprevir patients responded well, with 63 percent and 66 percent achieving sustained virus suppression - compared to 38 percent among patients taking only pegylated interferon and ribavirin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 3.2 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C virus infections. The disease is spread through virally infected blood, often by sharing of syringes or other equipment to inject drugs; prior to 1990, some infections can be attributed to blood transfusions. Some rare infections can be traced to medical procedures. Chronic hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer and cirrhosis and is the chief reason for the need for liver transplants in the U.S. The disease is linked to as many as 10,000 deaths each year.

In the new telaprevir study, funded by Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Mass., a total of 540 patients were enrolled. They took a 12-week course of 750 milligrams of telaprevir three times a day in addition to therapy with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Patients eligible for shortened treatment - meaning the virus was not detectable in the first month of treatment - were randomized to receive either 24 weeks or 48 weeks of treatment. The high cure rates among both groups showed that there was no benefit to additional treatment for early responders.

For patients, the shorter course of treatment means decreased costs, fewer side effects and less disruption to their daily lives, as this therapy requires intensive monitoring and laboratory visits