US FDA approves oral hepatitis C drug from Gilead


Dec 6 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators on Friday approved GileadSciences Inc's Sovaldi, also known as sofosbuvir, as atreatment for chronic infection with the liver-destroyinghepatitis C virus.

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

Hepatitis C affects about 3.2 million Americans, killingmore than 15,000 each year, mostly from illnesses such ascirrhosis and liver cancer.

Sovaldi is the first in a new class of medications known asnucleotide analogue inhibitors, or "nukes," designed to block aspecific protein that the hepatitis C virus needs to copyitself.

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

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