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Article updated: 10/25/2013 5:07 PM

FDA panel backs Gilead Sciences' hepatitis C drug

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By Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Food and Drug Administration advisers have unanimously voted in favor of a highly anticipated hepatitis C drug from Gilead Sciences that holds promise for millions of Americans infected with the liver-destroying virus.

All 15 members of the FDA's panel of virus experts voted to recommend approval of Gilead's pill to treat several forms of hepatitis C that account for most cases in the U.S.

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About 3 million people in the U.S. have hepatitis C, a blood-borne disease that causes liver damage. It is blamed for 15,000 deaths annually.

Current treatments can take up to a year of therapy and only cure about three out of four patients. Gilead's daily pill can cure up to 90 percent of patients with the most common form of the virus in just 12 weeks.

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