Bristol-Myers Squibb is abandoning an experimental hepatitis C pill it acquired for $2.5 billion earlier this year. The drug maker, which has a large presence in New Jersey, reported that some patients developed serious complications after taking the drug in a clinical trial.
Hepatitis C is a life-threatening liver disease that impairs the liver's ability to remove toxic substances from the blood. According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2 million baby boomers in New Jersey and across the country are infected with the disease. It can be transmitted from mother-to-infant, unsafe medical practices and blood transfusions.
Alarmingly, however, hepatitis C may not have detectable symptoms for many years. CDC researchers estimate that more than 800,000 people might unknowingly be infected with the virus. For that reason, the disease is sometimes referred to as a silent epidemic.
If untreated, hepatitis C can lead to disability, other medical complications, and even death. Each year, more than 15,000 Americans die from hepatitis C-related illnesses.
Common conditions caused by hepatitis C may also include cirrhosis, liver cancer -- the fastest-growing cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States -- and hepatic encephalopathy, a mental disorder which impairs brain function.
For New Jersey workers under full retirement age whose hepatitis C has made it impossible to continue working, monthly SSDI benefits might be available. The Social Security Administration recognizes chronic liver disease to be a potentially disabling condition. To qualify, SSDI applicants must submit evidence that satisfies the SSA's multi-factor evaluation for determining that their hepatitis C has resulted in a severe disability expected to last 12 months or longer.
Source: nj.com, "Bristol-Myers halts mid-stage study of promising hepatitis C drug," Susan Todd, Aug. 23, 2012
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