In Hepatitis C, Breakthroughs Require Faster Updates to Treatment Guidelines

With the approval of several new therapies in hepatitis C, by late 2013, the 2011 hepatitis C treatment guidelines were well out of date. A multidisciplinary group of infectious disease specialists and hepatology specialists have changed that with a website offering treatment guideline updates at unprecedented speed.

This article was originally published on the Specialty Pharmacy Times website.

Treatment guidelines for most disease states are typically published every few years, although the time period between changes in treatment guidelines may vary depending on the disease state. For instance, the recent 2014 Joint National Committee 8 hypertension guidelines represented the first major update to treatment guidelines in hypertension in more than a decade.

However, with the unprecedented, rapid advances in hepatitis C treatment, a fundamental change in the way treatment guidelines are updated and disseminated is under way. The rate of innovation has outpaced the ability of traditional publishers to update guidelines in print journals—even print journals with online updates.

Prior to the launch of a new website offering official, up-to-date guidance on the treatment of hepatitis C, the most up-to-date treatment guidelines were well out of date, having been last refreshed in 2011.

Michael Saag, MD, an infectious disease expert and professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and co-chair of the 27-member panel that created the new hepatitis C guidelines, noted several advantages of website-based guidelines. In a press release, Saag enumerated some of these benefits, stating, “What’s unique about these guidelines is that they are in a living document that can change as new drugs are approved, and if there are minor errors they can be amended immediately, so it has tremendous benefits to it on many levels.”

The website represents a joint venture backed by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the International Antiviral Society-USA. Up-to-date treatment guidelines in hepatitis C are now available at HCVguidelines.org.

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