Treatment

Taking Your Medications

Striving for complete adherence to Hepatitis C medications is the goal, but no one is perfect and there might be times that you forget to take a pill or miss an injection by a day.  It is extremely important to avoid any missed doses, otherwise the virus may quickly become resistant to the medications. The issue of adherence is even more important if you are on triple therapy with one of the Hepatitis C protease inhibitors (boceprevir and telaprevir), since not taking these drugs at the correct dose for the prescribed period of time may make Hepatitis C resistant to triple therapy in the future.

In fact, some of the side effects of Hepatitis C and its treatment – like anxiety and lack of concentration – makes remembering to take all of your medications all of the time even more difficult.  However, there are some simple strategies that can help:

  • Buy a 7-day pill box (available at most drug stores) to organize your pills for the week.  This will help you keep track of what pills need to be taken when and if you’ve taken them.
  • Set alarms to remind you to take your medications.  Cell phones and many watches have an alarm function, most of which can be put on “vibration” when at work or in public.
  • Use a calendar to plan and keep track of your interferon injections.  (This can also be used to keep track of your medical appointments and lab tests.)
  • Schedule your interferon injections so that potential side effects are least disruptive to your routine.  For example, if you work Monday through Friday, injecting Friday evening will give you time to rest over the weekend.
  • Try to keep a regular schedule of eating and sleeping.  A regular routine will help you remember to take your medications, particularly if you take them with food or at bedtime.
  • Plan ahead for unexpected situations that may arise, like losing your house keys, severe weather, or just being on the go.  Keep a daily packet of pills and snack bars in your car or at a neighbor’s house.
  • Get as much support as possible.  Enlist the help of family, friends and employers.  Support group peers who have been on treatment can be particularly helpful with advice and encouragement.
  • Pharmaceutical companies have many support services for people taking their medications. Take advantage of these free services.  A list of resources follows:

Merck
1-866-939-HEPC (4372)
www.merck-cares.com

Vertex
1-888-552-2494
www.vrtx.com

Genentech
1-877-PEGASYS (734-2797)
www.genentechaccesssolutions.com

Kadmon Pharmaceuticals
1-800-405-8506
www.3riverspharma.com

Before you stop taking any of your Hepatitis C medications, contact your doctor.  The goal is to avoid the situation of needing to reduce the dose and/or discontinue Hepatitis C medication, if at all possible. Also, if you become sick and need to see a doctor in an emergency situation or are hospitalized, it is very important to tell them about your Hepatitis C medications and to immediately contact your Hepatitis C doctor as well.