Game changers and compassionate fatalism

Here is some follow-up on a couple of recent posts.

First, compassionate fatalism. More on St. Anthony’s. (Previous post)

But Bill Hockenberger, a former alcoholic who manages St. Anthony’s, insists that he hasn’t given up on any of his charges and that about 3 to 5 percent stop drinking every year.

Hope springs eternal.

Next, game changers. More on a new Hepatitis C treatment option. (Previous post)

With declarations that a new day is dawning in the treatment of hepatitis C, members of a federal advisory panel unanimously approved the first of two new drugs to treat the stubborn liver infection on Wednesday.

The committee is expected to green light the second hep-C drug today. Few doubt the Food and Drug Administration will clear the new drugs for market, possibly as soon as next month.

“This changes the game completely,” says Dr. Victoria Cargill of the National Institutes of Health, acting chair of the FDA’s advisory committee. “I can look into the faces of the people (with hepatitis C) and offer them some hope.”

“I can’t wait to get back and talk to my patients about it,” enthused panel member Dr. Barbara McGovern of Tufts Medical School in Boston.

Studies show that the new drugs – so-called protease inhibitors that interfere with the hep-C virus’ ability to replicate – eliminate the virus in 65 to 80 percent of patients.

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