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Three Drugs Best to Treat Hepatitis B, Doctor Says

A doctor examines an unconscious hepatitis patient in special isolation ward at a civil hospital in Ahmadabad, India.

While three drugs to treat hepatitis B have proven the most effective so far, they must be used properly and consistently, a U.S. doctor said.

Taing Tek Hong, a Florida-based physician, told listeners to VOA Khmer’s twice-weekly radio call-in talk show, Hello VOA, that out of the seven drugs he suggested in a previous show, Peginterferon alfa-2a (Pegasys), Entecavor (Baraclude), and Tenofovir (Viread) are the most effective.

He says Tenofovir, also known as Viread, may be most suitable for Cambodians since it is available in Cambodia, has proven effective and has minimal side effects. Peginterferon alfa-2a is also available in Cambodia, while the third most effective medicine, Entecavor, is currently available only in neighboring countries.

Hepatitis B has high prevalence in Asia. According to the physician, neonatal vaccinations have proven effective in reducing the rate of infection and death early on. He suggests babies be given the first dose of the vaccination within 24 hours of birth, followed by the second and third doses at age one month and six months, respectively.

Taing Tek Hong says while the rate of cure of hepatitis B is only 7% to 8%, treating it is crucial to prevent cirrhosis and most importantly liver cancer.

But he warned against self-prescription and use, a practice that is fairly common in Cambodia.

“Consult a doctor. Don’t use the drugs yourself because this can lead to serious danger,” he said.