FDA approves first pill to treat all forms of hepatitis C

WASHINGTON – Federal health officials have approved the first pill to treat all major forms of hepatitis C, the latest in a series of drug approvals that have reshaped treatment of the liver-destroying virus.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the combination pill from Gilead Sciences for patients with and without liver damage. The agency has approved a number of hepatitis C drugs in the last three years but all were targeted to specific strains of the virus or patients with various stages of liver disease.

Epclusa, the new pill from Gilead Sciences, combines the company’s first hepatitis drug, Sovaldi, with a new drug that attacks the virus using a different mechanism.

Gilead’s hepatitis pills have raked in billions of dollars by replacing an older approach that involved a grueling pill-and-injection cocktail.