FDA advisers unanimously back J&J hepatitis C drug

An experimental hepatitis C drug from Johnson & Johnson has won unanimous support from government experts who say the medication should be approved to treat patients infected with the liver-destroying virus.

All 19 members of a panel of Food and Drug Administration advisers voted unanimously in favor of approving J&J's simeprevir, a daily pill designed to eliminate the most common form of hepatitis C.

The FDA is not required to follow the group's recommendation, though it often does. A decision on the is expected next month.

More than 3 million people in the U.S. have hepatitis C, a blood-borne disease that causes liver damage and is blamed for 15,000 deaths a year. J&J is one of a half-dozen companies working to develop more effective treatments for the virus.

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