US FDA approves oral hepatitis C drug from Gilead

Dec 6 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators on Friday approved Gilead Sciences Inc's Sovaldi, also known as sofosbuvir, as a treatment for chronic infection with the liver-destroying hepatitis C virus.

The pill is the first approved to treat certain types of hepatitis C infection without the need for interferon, an injected drug that can cause severe flu-like symptoms.

Hepatitis C affects about 3.2 million Americans, killing more than 15,000 each year, mostly from illnesses such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Sovaldi is the first in a new class of medications known as nucleotide analogue inhibitors, or "nukes," designed to block a specific protein that the hepatitis C virus needs to copy itself.

Analysts, on average, have forecast Sovaldi sales of $1.9 billion next year, according to BMO Capital Markets.