Approved Drugs for Adults

There are currently 7 approved drugs in the United States for adults living with chronic hepatitis B infection. These include 5 types of antiviral drugs that are taken as a pill once a day for 1 year or longer. And there are 2 types of immune modulator drugs called “interferon” that are given as an injection for 6 months to 1 year.

It is important to know that not everyone needs to be treated. A liver specialist (or a provider who is knowledgeable about hepatitis B) should evaluate your health through a physical exam, blood tests, and an imaging study of your liver (ultrasound, FibroScan [Transient Elastography] or CT scan). Then you can discuss together whether you are a good candidate for treatment since the approved drugs are most effective when there are signs of active liver disease. In addition, talk to your provider about HBV Clinical Trials since there are several new drugs being tested that are available for infected adults.

All adults, however, should be seen regularly by a liver specialist (or care provider who is knowledgeable about hepatitis B) whether they are on treatment or not.

Approved Hepatitis B Drugs for Adults (United States)

Oral Antivirals (Nucleos(t)ide Analogues)
  • Tenofovir disoproxil (Viread) is a pill taken once a day, with few side effects, for at least one year or longer. This is considered a first-line treatment with an excellent resistance profile. (Approved in 2008)
  • Tenofovir alafenamide (Vemlidy) is a pill taken once a day, with few side effects, for at least one year or longer. This is considered a first-line treatment with an excellent resistance profile. (Approved in 2016)
  • Entecavir (Baraclude) is a pill taken once a day, with few side effects, for at least one year or longer. This is considered a first-line treatment with an excellent resistance profile. (Approved in 2005)
  • Telbivudine (Tyzeka or Sebivo) is a pill taken once a day, with few side effects, for at least one year or longer. This is considered a second-line treatment option. (Approved in 2006)
  • Adefovir Dipivoxil (Hepsera) is a pill taken once a day, with few side effects, for at least one year or longer. This is considered a second-line treatment option and patients must have their kidney function monitored regularly. (Approved in 2002)
  • Lamivudine (Epivir-HBV, Zeffix, or Heptodin) is a pill that is taken once a day, with few side effects, for at least one year or longer. This is generally not used in the U.S. because it is less potent than the newer drugs and most people develop drug resistance within a year or two. (Approved in 1998)
Immune Modulators (Interferons)
  • Pegylated Interferon (Pegasys) is given by injection once a week usually for 6 months  to  1 year. The drug can cause side effects such as flu-like symptoms and depression. (Approved in 2005)
  • Interferon Alpha (Intron A) is given by injection several times a week usually for 6 months to 1 year, but treatment can be longer. The drug can cause side effects such as flu-like symptoms, depression, and headaches. This is an older drug that is not used as often. (Approved in 1991)