DRUGS & CONDITIONS

ABOUT HEPATITIS C

Hepatitis means inflammation or damage of the liver. Inflammation is the body’s natural way to try to heal itself when a part of it becomes injured or infected. Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. The liver has many jobs in the body like:

  • Removing harmful chemicals from your blood
  • Fighting off infection
  • Changing what you eat and drink into energy and nutrients your body can use

 

Hepatitis C virus causes the liver to be inflamed (damaged) and prevents it from working well. Over time, this can damage the liver.  

In the U.S., hepatitis A, B and C are the most common types of viral hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. About 4 million people in the U.S. have hepatitis C. Each year, about 17,000 Americans become infected with the virus.

 

Acute Versus Chronic Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C can either be:

  • Acute: This is when people are first infected with the virus (usually within 6 months). About one out of four people with acute infection are able to fight off the infection on their own and are cured.
  • Chronic: About three out of four people with acute hepatitis C end up with long-term or chronic hepatitis C. This means that the virus stays in someone’s body, even if they don’t know they have it.

 

Millions of people don’t know they have hepatitis C. This is why screening for it is important. Now, with early screening and newer treatment, more people with hepatitis C can be cured (clear the virus). And earlier cure rates means less risk of liver damage and hepatitis C transmission to others.


TDD users please call toll-free at 1-800-863-5488.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about the information you find. CVS Caremark assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

CVS Caremark does not operate all the websites/organizations listed here, nor is it responsible for the availability or reliability of their content. These listings do not imply or constitute an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation by CVS Caremark.

Your privacy is important to us. Our employees are trained regarding the appropriate way to handle your private health information.

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DRUGS & CONDITIONS

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Many people with hepatitis C don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are infected. In fact, some people may not notice any symptoms for up to 30 years after being infected with the virus. Even though a person has no symptoms, the virus is still in the blood.

Symptoms for both acute and chronic hepatitis C can include:

  • Feeling very tired or weak
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Muscle or joint aches
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice (when the skin and white part of the eyes turn yellow) 

TDD users please call toll-free at 1-800-863-5488.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about the information you find. CVS Caremark assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

CVS Caremark does not operate all the websites/organizations listed here, nor is it responsible for the availability or reliability of their content. These listings do not imply or constitute an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation by CVS Caremark.

Your privacy is important to us. Our employees are trained regarding the appropriate way to handle your private health information.

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DRUGS & CONDITIONS

COMPLICATIONS

Unless chronic hepatitis C is treated, it can lead to long-term health problems like:

  • Liver cirrhosis (scarring)
  • Liver failure
  • Liver cancer

 

About 15,000 people in the U.S. die every year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. And hepatitis C is the most common reason people receive liver transplants.

Figure: Stages of Hepatitis C

Figure: Stages of Hepatitis C

Figure: People who become infected with the hepatitis C virus have acute hepatitis C (usually within six months). About 15% to 25% of people with acute hepatitis C clear the virus on their own. The rest will go on to develop chronic hepatitis C. People with chronic infection will have the virus long-term if not treated. They may not have any symptoms until the condition affects the liver. Of those with chronic infection, 60% to 70% of people will go on to develop chronic liver disease, 5% to 20% of people will go on to develop cirrhosis over a period of 20 to 30 years, and 1% to 5% of people will die from liver cirrhosis or cancer.


TDD users please call toll-free at 1-800-863-5488.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about the information you find. CVS Caremark assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

CVS Caremark does not operate all the websites/organizations listed here, nor is it responsible for the availability or reliability of their content. These listings do not imply or constitute an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation by CVS Caremark.

Your privacy is important to us. Our employees are trained regarding the appropriate way to handle your private health information.

©2015 CVS Caremark. All rights reserved. 75-33775a   030515

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS

Hepatitis C virus is transmitted when blood from an infected person enters another person’s body. Some people have greater chances of getting the virus. Most people get the virus by:

  • Sharing needles, syringes or other tools to inject drugs
  • Getting stuck with a sharp object that has infected blood on it (for example, in a hospital or clinic)
  • Being born to a mother who has hepatitis C


Some people are at a higher risk of getting hepatitis C. People who were born between 1945 and 1965 are five times more likely to have contracted hepatitis C. Although it’s not clear why, this may be because they were more likely to get tainted blood products before the supplies were screened starting in 1992. Others may have become infected from injecting drugs, even if it happened only once. Anyone born during these years should be screened for hepatitis C.

Doctors may also check for hepatitis C in people who:

  • Have ever injected or inhaled illegal drugs like cocaine or heroin
  • Got a clotting factor made before 1987
  • Got a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
  • Have been on hemodialysis for a long time
  • Have sex with an infected person or unprotected sex with multiple partners
  • Use infected needles for tattooing, acupuncture or piercings
  • Share toothbrushes, razors or other objects that could have blood on them
  • Have HIV infection
  • Were in prison
  • Have a chronic liver disease

TDD users please call toll-free at 1-800-863-5488.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about the information you find. CVS Caremark assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

CVS Caremark does not operate all the websites/organizations listed here, nor is it responsible for the availability or reliability of their content. These listings do not imply or constitute an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation by CVS Caremark.

Your privacy is important to us. Our employees are trained regarding the appropriate way to handle your private health information.

©2015 CVS Caremark. All rights reserved. 75-33775a   030515

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

DIAGNOSIS

People with hepatitis C can live for decades without feeling sick. By the time they have symptoms, they may already have liver damage. Being tested for hepatitis C early on can help prevent the damage. And some hepatitis C symptoms are similar to other liver disease symptoms. The only way to diagnose hepatitis C is through blood tests. So if you have any listed risk factors, talk to your doctor about being tested.

Hepatitis C is diagnosed by blood tests. The two main types are:

  • Hepatitis C antibody (or anti-HCV) test: Doctors use this test to find out if a person has had hepatitis C. This test looks for antibodies to the hepatitis C virus. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system in response to viruses.
  • RNA test: This is test is usually done in people who have antibodies to the virus. Doctors may run this test to see if the person has hepatitis C now or if it’s something this person had in the past but doesn’t have anymore.

More tests

If you have hepatitis C, your doctor may run other tests to find out: 

  • What type of hepatitis C virus you have (there are at least six types of the virus and the most common one in the U.S. is type 1)
  • Which treatment will work best for you
  • If and how much liver scarring you have

TDD users please call toll-free at 1-800-863-5488.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about the information you find. CVS Caremark assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

CVS Caremark does not operate all the websites/organizations listed here, nor is it responsible for the availability or reliability of their content. These listings do not imply or constitute an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation by CVS Caremark.

Your privacy is important to us. Our employees are trained regarding the appropriate way to handle your private health information.

©2015 CVS Caremark. All rights reserved. 75-33775a   030515

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

TREATMENT

People who don’t clear the virus from their bodies on their own may need treatment. Treatment for hepatitis C can help make sure the body clears the virus and prevents or slows down liver damage. Treatment may include:

  • Getting a lot of rest
  • Eating well and drinking enough water
  • Avoiding alcohol and other liver-damaging substances
  • Taking medicines


There are three main groups of hepatitis C medicines:

  • Pegylated interferons: Medicine that’s injected SC (subcutaneously or under the skin)
  • Ribavirin: An oral medicine (taken by mouth) that helps fight the virus. It is taken with pegylated interferons.
  • DAAs (direct-acting agents): Oral medicines that directly stop the virus from making more copies of itself. These are newer hepatitis C medicines that help more people clear the virus in a shorter period of time.
     

Table: FDA-approved Hepatitis C medicines

Name

Pegylated interferon

  • Pegasys® (peginterferon alfa-2a)
  • PegIntron®(peginterferon alfa-2b)

Ribavirin

  • Available in generic
  • Brand-name examples (Copegus®, Rebetol®, Ribasphere®

DAAs (direct-acting agents)

  • Harvoni® (ledipasvir/sofosbuvir)
  • Sovaldi® (sofosbuvir)
  • Olysio® (simeprevir)
  • Viekira Pak™ (ombitasvir, paritaprevir and ritonavir tablets; dasabuvir tablets)


Some people with hepatitis C may not need or benefit from medicines. Doctors choose a person’s best treatment option based on factors like:

  • The type of hepatitis C they have
  • How long they’ve had hepatitis C
  • If they’ve been treated for hepatitis C before
  • How much liver damage they have
  • Whether they’re planning on having a baby
  • What medical conditions they have
  • What kind of insurance benefits and coverage they have


Treatment for hepatitis C includes taking one or more medicines usually for three to six months. During this time, doctors will check for any liver problems and the person’s response to the treatment on a regular basis. 

A person is cured when the virus is no longer found in the blood 12 weeks after finishing the treatment. People have the best chance of being cured if they stick to the treatment plan and go to all doctor visits as scheduled.


TDD users please call toll-free at 1-800-863-5488.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about the information you find. CVS Caremark assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

CVS Caremark does not operate all the websites/organizations listed here, nor is it responsible for the availability or reliability of their content. These listings do not imply or constitute an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation by CVS Caremark.

Your privacy is important to us. Our employees are trained regarding the appropriate way to handle your private health information.

©2015 CVS Caremark. All rights reserved. 75-33775a   030515

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

SIDE EFFECTS

Medicines to treat hepatitis C may cause side effects. Depending on the medicine, some side effects may be more serious than others. In general, the direct-acting agents (DAAs) seem to have fewer side effects than other hepatitis C medicines. Common side effects include:

  • Fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • Depression
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Anemia (not having enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body)
  • Skin rash


People who take hepatitis C medicines and have side effects that bother them should talk to their doctors. Doctors might have a way to manage the side effects so that they can keep taking the medicines. For example, doctors may suggest:

  • Using over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen for flu-like symptoms or topical cream for a skin rash or injection-site reactions
  • Switching the time when medicines are taken
  • Lowering the doses of medicines


Even if the side effects don’t go away fully, it’s best to continue taking the medicines exactly as instructed to get the best outcome. Remember, these medicines can help cure hepatitis C.


TDD users please call toll-free at 1-800-863-5488.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about the information you find. CVS/caremark assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

CVS/caremark does not operate all the websites/organizations listed here, nor is it responsible for the availability or reliability of their content. These listings do not imply or constitute an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation by CVS/caremark.

Your privacy is important to us. Our employees are trained regarding the appropriate way to handle your private health information.

©2015 CVS/caremark. All rights reserved. 75-33775a   030515

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

PROTECT THE LIVER

People with hepatitis C can still live a full, active life with some changes in their lifestyle. They can follow these steps to protect their livers and manage their hepatitis C:

  • Rest when feeling tired
  • Eat healthy meals
  • Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise
  • Keep weight in healthy range
  • Manage stress
  • See the doctor regularly
  • Get vaccinated for hepatitis A and hepatitis B
  • Be up to date on vaccinations
  • Take medicines exactly as told by the doctor

TDD users please call toll-free at 1-800-863-5488.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about the information you find. CVS Caremark assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

CVS Caremark does not operate all the websites/organizations listed here, nor is it responsible for the availability or reliability of their content. These listings do not imply or constitute an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation by CVS Caremark.

Your privacy is important to us. Our employees are trained regarding the appropriate way to handle your private health information.

©2015 CVS Caremark. All rights reserved. 75-33775a   030515

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

STAY ON TRACK

It can be hard to remember when and how to take your hepatitis C medicine. But medicines only help fight the hepatitis C virus if taken exactly as prescribed. Never change or stop medicines without talking to the doctor who prescribed them. People taking hepatitis C medicines can follow these tips to help stay on track for best outcomes:

  • Take medicines as part of a daily routine
    • It’s best to take medicines the same time(s) each day. For example, when eating breakfast or setting an alarm before bed. 
  • Use medicine reminders
    • Set a standing alarm on your cell phone. Use the CVS/specialty mobile app―anyone can download and use it for free from Google Play™ or Apple® iTunes® stores.
    • Post a sticky note where it can be seen easily. For example, on the bathroom mirror or refrigerator.
    • Schedule tasks or appointments on your computer
    • Use a pill box or make a check-off chart.
  • Make and keep doctor and blood work appointments
    • Doctors may order blood work or other tests to check for response to treatment. Write down and keep all doctor and blood work visits. Skipping could affect treatment goals.
  • Join a support group
    • Join an in-person or online support group. Talking to others living with hepatitis C may help you cope with treatment and everyday challenges.
  • Work with the entire health care team
    • Work closely with doctors, pharmacists, nurses, laboratory and other providers. Stay in touch and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Doctors and CareTeam clinicians can give advice on relieving side effects, missed doses, creating an easy-to-follow medicine schedule and more.

 


TDD users please call toll-free at 1-800-863-5488.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about the information you find. CVS Caremark assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

CVS Caremark does not operate all the websites/organizations listed here, nor is it responsible for the availability or reliability of their content. These listings do not imply or constitute an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation by CVS Caremark.

Your privacy is important to us. Our employees are trained regarding the appropriate way to handle your private health information.

©2015 CVS Caremark. All rights reserved. 75-33775a   030515

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

PREVENT TRANSMISSION

People with hepatitis C can help prevent the virus from spreading to others. Even people getting treatment for hepatitis C can spread the virus. Those who had hepatitis C before can still get it again after clearing the virus. People with hepatitis C should follow these tips to protect themselves, their loved ones and others:

  • Don’t share needles or supplies to inject medicines, illegal drugs or steroids.
  • Don’t share any personal items that may have blood on them. For example, shaving razorblades, nail clippers, toothbrushes, toothpicks and diabetes supplies (lancets or glucose meters).
  • Don’t donate blood.
  • Cover all open cuts and wounds. Clean areas that may have blood on them.
  • Talk to friends and family about being tested. Millions of Americans are infected but don’t know it. Finding out could save their lives.

TDD users please call toll-free at 1-800-863-5488.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about the information you find. CVS Caremark assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

CVS Caremark does not operate all the websites/organizations listed here, nor is it responsible for the availability or reliability of their content. These listings do not imply or constitute an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation by CVS Caremark.

Your privacy is important to us. Our employees are trained regarding the appropriate way to handle your private health information.

©2015 CVS Caremark. All rights reserved. 75-33775a   030515

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

SUPPORT

Ready to Get Started With Us?

Please call CVS Specialty toll-free at 1-800-237-2767 to start filling your hepatitis C prescriptions with us. We can help you get the best possible outcomes for a better quality of life. And help is always available―24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

Already Enjoying Our Services?

Contact your CVS Specialty Hepatitis C Care Team toll-free at 1-800-237-2767, if you have questions or concerns about your health or treatment. A pharmacist, nurse or counselor is ready to help.

Resources

Learning about hepatitis C gives people more tools to fight the virus and live better. Visit these websites to learn about hepatitis C treatment, tips for managing daily life, help for caregivers and links to other hepatitis C news.

American Liver Foundation
http://www.liverfoundation.org/

Hepatitis C Association
http://www.hepcassoc.org/

Hepatitis Foundation International
http://www.hepatitisfoundation.org/

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/hepatitis/Pages/default.aspx 

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/liver-disease/hepatitis-c/ 


TDD users please call toll-free at 1-800-863-5488.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about the information you find. CVS Caremark assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

CVS Caremark does not operate all the websites/organizations listed here, nor is it responsible for the availability or reliability of their content. These listings do not imply or constitute an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation by CVS Caremark.

Your privacy is important to us. Our employees are trained regarding the appropriate way to handle your private health information.

©2015 CVS Caremark. All rights reserved. 75-33775a   030515