YOUR HEALTH: Mixing two drugs to attack Hep C

SEATTLE, Washington – 11-year old Talon Hendrickson-Zimmerman plays without a care these days, since his Hepatitis C is gone.

He no longer has to pack gloves, in case he gets hurt.

"If they needed to help me, they would have to wear them, because they couldn't touch my blood cause I had Hepatitis C," explained Talon.

Talon got Hepatitis C from his birth mom, who used intravenous drugs.

SYMPTOMS/TREATMENT:  It could take about two weeks before the virus can be detected in the blood, but it may take six to nine weeks after initial exposure to present symptoms.  Some may include:

  • loss of appetite
  • yellowing of skin or eyes
  • tiredness
  • fever
  • stomachache and diarrhea
  • light-colored stools
  • dark urine

He was diagnosed at two.  His first treatment, interferon, made him terribly sick.

Last year he entered a clinical trial for Harvoni, made of two anti-viral drugs.

Talon's adoptive mom, Lisa Mills, says his viral load dropped from one-point-two million to twenty in a week.
Then his doctor brought this news ...

"When she came in to the room and told us after two weeks on this medication, he is cured, I mean you just literally cried," she said.  "We cried."

Dr. Karen Murray at Seattle Children's Hospital says Harvoni was approved for adults and older kids.

As soon as she could, she got Talon in a trial for younger children. He took two pills a day for three months with no side effects.

"The efficacy of the treatment is truly astounding," explained Dr. Karen Murray, Children's Hospital's Gastroenterology and Hepatology Division chief .  "98 plus percent in his age group."

Talon will be monitored for five years.

"He doesn't have to worry about going through liver transplants, infecting other people," says Lisa.  "He can play basketball, he can have a nosebleed."

Just like a normal kid.

Because of responses like Talon's, Harvoni was approved for clinical trials in younger kids.  It's now in trial for children as young as three.

Next, Dr. Murray says she hopes someone will work on how to prevent mom to baby transmission, perhaps by treating moms during pregnancy.

NEW TECHNOLOGY:  Harvoni is a prescription medicine approved for adults with chronic hepatitis C.  As of April 2017 it was expanded for approval to ages 12-17 years old.  Clinical trials for younger children are underway; the 3 to 6 year old cohort is currently enrolling.  Approval for ages 3-11 will be sought when the data from this youngest cohort is available.  Study subjects took two pills a day for 12 weeks, and Talon Hendrickson-Zimmerman did not have any side effects.  His viral load went from 1.2 million to 20 in a week, and within two weeks he was cured.  In adult clinical studies, 96-99 percent of patients with genotype 1 who had no prior treatment were cured with just 12 weeks of therapy.  (Sources: http://www.harvoni.com/)

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.