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Kidney Transplantees Do Very Well on Harvoni for Hepatitis C

What is a Kidney Transplantee?

In general, this title encompasses anyone who has ever received a kidney transplant. However, the research regarding the use of this specific hepatitis C drug was focused on people who had hepatitis C whose kidney transplants occurred at least six months prior to the drug administration.

What is Harvoni?

Harvoni is a hepatitis C drug that is fairly new, it came on the market in 2014 in Europe and was approved by the United States’ FDA in late 2014. The drug combines two newer hepatitis C treatment methods; a pill that combines multiple drugs and a medication that is specific to certain hepatitis C genotypes. A person’s hepatitis C genotype is discovered via test after the person tests positive for the virus. Treatment methods are specific to different genotypes, rather than the previous treatment method of a one-size-fits all  plan. Instead, this drug is specific to certain genotypes which increases the likelihood of the treatment being successful in treating the virus and minimizing unnecessary additional medications or risks due to exposure to more medication than absolutely necessary.

Harvoni is considered to be effective against the hepatitis C genotype 1, however, in Europe, it is approved for genotypes 1 and 4, and sometimes in those with genotype 3. It is a combination pill that includes sofosbuvir (which is branded Sovaldi) and ledipasvir. Typically, this requires one pill per day doseage over a period of twelve weeks. The drug can be very expensive and some insurance companies may hesitate to cover this drug in kidney transplantees, who were previously seen as patients who may not experience success with this treatment.

Why is it News that Kidney Transplantees Do Very Well on Harvoni?

Hepatitis C is a virus that often impacts the kidneys and/or the liver. In some cases, the damage occurs because the virus has been in the body for years or decades without treatment because there are not always symptoms of the virus that a person would recognize and that would send them to a doctor to get tested. When there is organ damage, it is general practice to be very careful about which medications a person’s body can tolerate because the body is not in the condition to always react well with the introduction of a medication. In addition, the hepatitis C virus can be continuing to cause organ damage until the body is cured of the virus. This can create a very tricky situation for many doctors, as it can seem to be a catch-22; the body needs medication to stop the virus but that virus can make it difficult for the body to be able to receive medication.

For a period of time, this meant that kidney transplantees may not have received hepatitis C treatment, forcing them to live knowing their body was continuing to be impacted or requiring them to take treatment medication rather than medication intended to cure the virus. This new research regarding the benefits of Harvoni on those who have had kidney transplants means that the risks are lessened, which can give such patients hope and it can give doctors an option for patients who were previously high risk patients and whose personal medical history as a kidney transplantee may have required them to have more frequent doctors’ visits or organ scans to monitor the impact of the hepatitis C medication on their new kidney. This helps to reassure doctors, it makes the treatment process easier on patients, and it can significantly lower the treatment costs for insurance companies and private payees.

I Am A Kidney Transplantee and Have Hepatitis C, Will I Do Well on Harvoni?

It is possible. However, as with any and all medication protocols, the best options are decided by the professionals who have access to your personal medical records and to the tests on your specific strain of hepatitis C. While one specific drug can make news for its efficacy or while a drug may be regularly seen on television commercials, it does not guarantee that it is the best option for every single patient. If you are interested in finding out whether a specific drug is the right fit for your medical needs, you can always contact the medical professional who is treating you. They may be able to answer your questions over the phone or they may request that you make an appointment to see them in person. Either way, they can review your medical history, current needs, and your personal details and help to explain to you why they chose the treatment method they did or whether you may want to choose an alternative plan.1-6

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Anderson, PharmD, L. (2016). Hep C and Harvoni: 11 Facts About Your Treatment. Retrieved 18 January 2017, from
  2. Harvoni safe, effective in kidney transplant patients with HCV. (2016). Retrieved 18 January 2017, from
  3. Ioannou, G., Beste, L., Chang, M., Green, P., Lowy, E., & Tsui, J. et al. (2016). Effectiveness of Sofosbuvir, Ledipasvir/Sofosbuvir, or Paritaprevir/Ritonavir/Ombitasvir and Dasabuvir Regimens for Treatment of Patients With Hepatitis C in the Veterans Affairs National Health Care System. Gastroenterology, 151(3), 457-471.e5.
  4. Kidney Transplantees Do Very Well on Harvoni for Hepatitis C. (2016). HEP. Retrieved 18 January 2017, from
  5. Ledipasvir-Sofosbuvir (Harvoni) - Treatment - Hepatitis C Online. (2016). Retrieved 18 January 2017, from
  6. McCullough, M. (2016). Penn researchers: Hep C drugs make more kidneys safe for transplant. Retrieved 18 January 2017, from