The HIV drug Emtriva® (emtricitabine) is showing promise in clinical trails as an effective and safe treatment for hepatitis B, according to its manufacturer Gilead Sciences.
The trial involved 248 hepatitis B patients who were given either daily doses of 200 milligrams of Emtriva for 48 weeks or a placebo. Preliminary results showed that 62 percent of the Emtriva group experienced significant improvement in the condition of their livers, compared with 25 percent of the placebo group.
Emtriva, a nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitor, works by blocking reverse transcriptase, an enzyme involved in the replication of the hepatitis B virus in the body.
Emtriva was approved in 2003 for use in combination with other antiretroviral drugs for the treatment of HIV in the United States and Europe.
Five percent of the participants taking Emtriva had to discontinue treatment and leave the study, compared to seven percent receiving a placebo. The most common adverse events were influenza, upper respiratory infection, headache, fatigue, pain and cough.
Other sources: Gilead Sciences