MANAGING HEPATITIS -- Drug Information

Vaccines

Hepatitis C:

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Trials are in progress using DNA-based immunization to study the immune responses against heptitis C.

There has been some discussion as to what type of vaccine would be best for the hepatitis C virus. Ideal would be a vaccine that would prevent initial infection (prophylactic vaccine), but even a vaccine that would prevent the infection from becoming chronic would be a step forward (therapeutic vaccine).

The challenge lies in the fact that the virus has many strains and mutates easily. An effective vaccine would have to work against at least one genotype of the virus, preferably genotype 1, which is the most common. The other problem is developing a vaccine that provides lasting protection.

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Types of possible preventive vaccines:

  • Passive immunization
  • Envelope glycoprotein vaccines
  • Epitope based vaccines
  • Naked DNA vaccines
  • Viral vector vaccines

Promising research is being done on therapeutic vaccines

  • Inhibitors: polymerase, protease, helicase, glucosidase,
  • Antisense oligonucleotides
  • Ribozymes
  • Polyclonal antibodies
  • Cytokine inducers
  • Treatments to reverse fibrosis
  • Treatments to create new liver cells

InnoVac-C (Innogenetics) is a vaccine using hepatitis C envelope protein sequences to produce immunity. It is in phase 1 clinical trials.

Hepatitis B:

Hepatitis B vaccines prevent hepatitis B and its serious consequences, and have been shown to be very safe when given to infants, children and adults. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says there is no confirmed evidence that indicates that hepatitis B vaccine can cause chronic illnesses. The vaccines provide immunization in about 90 percent of recipients.

The CDC recommends routine vaccination of all newborns, infants and children under the age of 18, and vaccination of persons of any age who have chronic liver disease, are users of illicit injectable drugs, are men who have sex with men, or are persons with clotting factor disorders who receive therapeutic blood products.

Vaccination also is recommended for travelers to areas with high or intermediate rates of hepatitis B who plan to stay for six months or more and who have frequent close contact with the local population.

Immunization requires three doses of vaccine generally given over a period of six months. The following schedule is recommended for newborns.

  • 1st dose: For infants born to mothers infected with hepatitis B - within 12 hours. For infants born to mothers who test negative - within one to two months following delivery.
  • 2nd dose: 1 month later
  • 3rd dose: 6 months after the first dose.

Approved vaccines: Engerix-B (GlaxoSmithKline) and Recombivax HB (Merck & Co.)

On May 11, 2001, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed a combined hepatitis A and B vaccine (Twinrix®) for use in persons aged 18 years of age or older. Twinrix is manufactured and distributed by GlaxoSmithKline and the antigenic components have been separately used routinely in the United States as hepatitis A and B vaccines since 1995 and 1989.


Hepatitis A:

Hepatitis A vaccines prevent hepatitis A and are licensed in the United States to be given to children over the age of 2 and adults.

The CDC recommends vaccination of persons traveling to countries that have high or intermediate rates of hepatitis A, children in communities that have periodic hepatitis A outbreaks, men who have sex with men, persons of any age who have chronic liver disease, users of illicit injectable drugs, and persons with clotting factor disorders who receive therapeutic blood products.

Immunization requires two doses of vaccine generally given six months to a year apart.

Approved vaccines: Havrix (GlaxoSmithKline) and Vaqta (Merck & Co.)


All information provided in this site is offered for educational purposes only, and it is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your own physician or healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.