EPCLUSA VS. HARVONI
Here we look at how Epclusa and Harvoni are alike and different.
Epclusa contains two medications in one pill: velpatasvir and sofosbuvir. Harvoni also contains two drugs in one pill: ledipasvir and sofosbuvir.
Both medications contain the drug sofosbuvir, which is considered the “backbone” of the treatment. This means that the treatment plan is based on that drug, with other drugs added in combination.
Epclusa and Harvoni are both FDA-approved to treat hepatitis C. Epclusa is approved to treat all six genotypes of hepatitis C in adults with or without cirrhosis.
Harvoni is also approved to treat genotypes 1, 4, 5, and 6. It’s used for adults, and unlike Epclusa, it’s used for children aged 12 and older or who weigh at least 77 pounds.
Forms and administration
Epclusa and Harvoni are both taken as one tablet once daily. They can be taken with food or on an empty stomach.
Epclusa is taken daily for 12 weeks. Harvoni is taken daily for either 12 or 24 weeks, depending on your liver function.
Side effects and risks
Epclusa and Harvoni belong to the same class of medications, so they have similar effects in the body. Therefore, they cause many of the same side effects. Below are some examples of these side effects.
More common side effects
More common side effects that can occur with both Epclusa and Harvoni include:
- trouble sleeping
- muscle weakness
In addition to these side effects, people taking Harvoni may also have:
- muscle pain
- shortness of breath
Serious side effects
Serious side effects that can occur with both Epclusa and Harvoni include:
- reactivation of the hepatitis B virus, which can lead to liver failure or death
- serious allergic reactions, including angioedema (severe swelling)
Epclusa and Harvoni both have boxed warnings from the FDA. A boxed warning is the strongest kind of warning that the FDA requires.
The boxed warnings describe a risk of reactivation of a hepatitis B infection after starting treatment with either drug. Reactivation of hepatitis B can lead to liver failure or death.
Your doctor will test you for hepatitis B before you start taking Epclusa or Harvoni. If the test results show that you have hepatitis B, you may need to take medication to treat it in order to prevent serious liver damage.
Epclusa and Harvoni have been compared in clinical studies. Both are effective for treating hepatitis C, although Epclusa may cure a greater percentage of people than Harvoni does.
According to treatment guidelines, Epclusa and Harvoni are both first-choice medication options for the treatment of hepatitis C genotypes 1, 4, 5, and 6 in adults. In addition:
- Epclusa is a first-choice option for treating genotypes 2 and 3.
- Harvoni is a first-choice option for treating genotypes 1, 4, 5, and 6 in children ages 12 and older (or weighing 77 pounds and greater).
One study that involved people with and without cirrhosis found that Epclusa and Harvoni had similar cure rates. It found that more than 93 percent of people who received ledipasvir and sofosbuvir, the components in Harvoni, were cured of the virus.
The cure rate for people taking velpatasvir and sofosbuvir, the components in Epclusa, was greater than 97 percent.
Another study found that the two medications had similar rates of clearing the hepatitis C virus in people with compensated liver cirrhosis. And in a third study, both drugs were again found to be highly effective at curing the virus.
However, in all three studies, Epclusa had slightly higher rates of SVR than Harvoni. SVR stands for sustained virologic response, which means undetectable virus levels after treatment.
Epclusa and Harvoni are brand-name medications. At this time, they’re not available in generic forms. Generic drugs typically cost less than brand-name drugs.
Harvoni is typically more expensive than Epclusa. The actual price you pay for either drug will depend on your insurance plan.