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      Efficacy and safety of a herbal mixture (Viron ® tablets) in the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection: a prospective, randomized, open-label, proof-of-concept study

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          Development of an optimal interferon-free regimen for chronic hepatitis C virus infection is believed to require the combination of different drug classes to provide good antiviral efficacy, clinical and quality of life benefits, as well as a high barrier to resistance. Viron ® is a new herbal drug in film-coated tablet form, and is based on a mixture of herbs with known hepatoprotective and antiviral properties. We conducted this study to explore the safety and the potential clinical and quality of life benefits of this product in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection.


          Eighty-two consecutive patients presenting to our outpatient clinics as already-known or newly-diagnosed cases of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, were entered into the study and randomized to three groups to receive escalating doses of Viron for 6 months. Virological, clinical, and enzyme responses, as well as quality of life index scores for chronic liver disease were compared between the groups.


          Of the 20 patients treated with the highest dose of Viron (three tablets twice daily), two (10%) had a complete virological response at the end of treatment (ETR) and two (10%) had a partial ETR, defined as a decrease in viral load of at least 2-log 10 at the end of 6 months of treatment, whereas patients treated with the medium dose (two tablets twice daily) and the lowest dose (one tablet twice daily) showed a significantly lower ETR ( P=0.043). Alanine aminotransferase levels and scores on the Chronic Liver Disease Questionnaire improved to a significantly greater extent in the highest dose group ( P=0.007 and P=0.021, respectively). No serious adverse effects attributable to the herbal formulation were reported in any of the groups, apart from mild transient nausea, bloating, giddiness, and headache in two patients in the group receiving two tablets twice daily and in three patients in the group receiving three tablets twice daily.


          We conclude that this herbal formulation is potentially safe and may offer some added clinical and quality of life benefits when used in the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection. Larger studies could be warranted to evaluate the effects of using this formulation as an add-on therapy to an all-oral combination of a directly acting antiviral drug protocol in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.

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          Most cited references 28

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          A systematic review of hepatitis C virus epidemiology in Asia, Australia and Egypt.

          The hepatitis C pandemic has been systematically studied and characterized in North America and Europe, but this important public health problem has not received equivalent attention in other regions. The objective of this systematic review was to characterize hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemiology in selected countries of Asia, Australia and Egypt, i.e. in a geographical area inhabited by over 40% of the global population. Data references were identified through indexed journals and non-indexed sources. In this work, 7770 articles were reviewed and 690 were selected based on their relevance. We estimated that 49.3-64.0 million adults in Asia, Australia and Egypt are anti-HCV positive. China alone has more HCV infections than all of Europe or the Americas. While most countries had prevalence rates from 1 to 2% we documented several with relatively high prevalence rates, including Egypt (15%), Pakistan (4.7%) and Taiwan (4.4%). Nosocomial infection, blood transfusion (before screening) and injection drug use were identified as common risk factors in the region. Genotype 1 was common in Australia, China, Taiwan and other countries in North Asia, while genotype 6 was found in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries. In India and Pakistan genotype 3 was predominant, while genotype 4 was found in Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria. We recommend implementation of surveillance systems to guide effective public health policy that may lead to the eventual curtailment of the spread of this pandemic infection. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.
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            Treating viral hepatitis C: efficacy, side effects, and complications.

             M P Manns (2006)
            The treatment of hepatitis C has dramatically improved over the past decade. Unlike any other chronic viral infection, a significant proportion of patients with chronic hepatitis C can be cured. However, the current standard therapy--pegylated interferon alpha and ribavirin--has its limitations. Limited efficacy in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 and the side effect profile will necessitate the development of new therapeutic approaches. This review describes the efficacy and optimisation of the current standard therapy of hepatitis C and its problems in special patient populations. New treatment directions beyond interferon alpha based therapies are on the horizon.
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              Herbal medicine in the treatment of liver diseases.

               F Stickel,  D Schuppan (2007)
              Herbal drugs have become increasingly popular and their use is widespread. Licensing regulations and pharmacovigilance regarding herbal products are still incomplete and clearcut proof of their efficacy in liver diseases is sparse. Nevertheless, a number of herbals show promising activity including silymarin for antifibrotic treatment, phyllantus amarus in chronic hepatitis B, glycyrrhizin to treat chronic viral hepatitis, and a number of herbal combinations from China and Japan that deserve testing in appropriate studies. Apart from therapeutic properties, reports are accumulating about liver injury after the intake of herbals, including those advertised for liver diseases. Acute and/or chronic liver damage occurred after ingestion of some Chinese herbs, herbals that contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, germander, greater celandine, kava, atractylis gummifera, callilepsis laureola, senna alkaloids, chaparral and many others. Since the evidence supporting the use of botanicals to treat chronic liver diseases is insufficient and only few of them are well standardised and free of potential serious side effects, most of these medications are not recommended outside clinical trials. Particularly with regard to the latter, adequately powered randomised-controlled clinical trials with well-selected end points are needed to assess the role of herbal therapy for liver diseases.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                11 February 2015
                : 9
                : 799-804
                [1 ]KEMET Clinic, Cairo, Egypt
                [2 ]Green Clinic and Research Center, Alexandria, Egypt
                [3 ]Internal Medicine Department, Cape Canaveral Hospital, Cocoa Beach, FL, USA
                [4 ]Pharco Corporation, Alexandria, Egypt
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Mostafa Yakoot, Green Clinic and Research Center, 27 Green Street 21121, Alexandria, Egypt, Tel +20 12 2392 7561, Email yakoot@ 123456yahoo.com
                © 2015 Shawkat et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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