Last updated on October 2018

A Pilot Study of Treating HCV at a Psychiatrist-staffed Outpatient Addiction Clinic


Brief description of study

The main purpose of this pilot study is to investigate the safety, effectiveness and tolerability of the study medication in the treatment of people with chronic hepatitis C virus infection who regularly attend a psychiatrist-staffed clinic for opiate addiction treatment.

Detailed Study Description

An estimated 3.2 million people in the United States are currently infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Since 1990, when the US introduced screening of the blood supply for HCV, injection drug use has been the primary mode of HCV transmission in the United States. It is widely recognized that addressing the HCV epidemic among people who inject drugs (PWID) depends on increasing access to: 1) clean injection equipment; 2) opiate substitution therapy (OST); 3) curative HCV treatment; and 4) assistance with comorbid psychiatric conditions and social issues (Robaeys, C et al, 2013).

Nevertheless, access to HCV treatment among current and former injection drug users is thought to be limited by several factors including: 1) insufficient number of infectious disease and gastroenterology providers and 2) provider and third-party payor concerns about adherence to medication and the risk of reinfection (Aspinall, EJ et al, 2013). Strategies to increase access among current and former injection drug users to direct acting antiviral drugs are urgently needed. The purpose of the current study is to assess the impact of co-treating chronic hepatitis C infection and opiate dependence within the context of an outpatient addiction clinic staffed by psychiatrists. The beneficial impact of co-treating opiate dependence and an infectious illness has been demonstrated in the case of HIV infection. Altice and colleagues conducted an observational study of HIV-infected opiate-dependent patients who were offered OST with buprenorphine/naloxone at 10 different HIV clinics. Subjects initiating buprenorphine/naloxone were more likely to initiate or remain on ART (Altice, 2011).

The Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) program has demonstrated that with proper training and mentorship, primary care providers with no prior experience in managing HCV are able to treat the disease effectively (Arora et al, 2011). Since the publication of the ECHO study, the treatment of HCV has become considerably less complicated due to the widespread availability of safe, highly effective single tablet regimens, such as Epclusa. The investigators believe that treatment of HCV is now well within the grasp of physicians and other healthcare providers without training in internal or family medicine.

This single arm pilot study will assess HCV treatment with Epclusa at an outpatient addiction clinic staffed by psychiatrists. The investigators hypothesize that with proper training and mentorship, psychiatrists who are also a licensed buprenorphine/naloxone providers will be able to effectively assess liver health and treat chronic hepatitis C infection with Epclusa. Further, the investigators hypothesize that patients with chronic hepatitis C infection on buprenorphine/naloxone maintenance therapy who are treated for HCV by a psychiatrist during regularly scheduled visits to an addiction clinic will have high rates of adherence to HCV treatment and achieve SVR 12.

Given that subjects will receive standard of care evaluation and treatment for their chronic hepatitis C infection, the investigators believe that study participation poses minimal risk. Indeed, The investigators believe that subjects will benefit from improved access to this important treatment which will be provided at a convenient location by a known physician under the guidance of an infectious disease physician with extensive experience treating HCV infection.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03235154

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Recruitment Status: Open


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