Pamela Anderson to get potent drugs for hepatitis C 

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
July 25, 2002

Pamela Anderson plans to be injected with powerful antiviral drugs to treat hepatitis C–a sometimes fatal liver disease she blames on a tattoo needle she shared with ex-husband Tommy Lee.

Most people with hepatitis C eventually develop chronic liver disease, with a far smaller number at risk for liver cancer or cirrhosis.

“It’s a little kind of chemotherapy,” Anderson, 35, said in an interview Tuesday with CNN’s Larry King. She added, “There’s lots of side effects. Your hair falls out. I want to do it for my kids, because I don’t want to die, basically.”

The divorced couple have two sons, Brandon, 6, and Dylan, 4.

“Once a person is exposed to hepatitis C, there’s about a 15 to 20 percent chance they will eradicate the disease on their own,” said Dr. Helen Te, a hepatologist at the University of Chicago Hospitals. “Those people will never need treatment. But once there is a significant amount of liver damage in the form of inflammation or scarring, or an excessive amount of fatigue, then it’s time to treat a patient [with antiviral drugs].”

Anderson, however, told King that a biopsy showed her liver still was relatively healthy.

“There are some patients who have very mild injury to the liver,” Te said. “They don’t have a high risk of progression and are able to defer treatment. But some will say, ‘I want the treatment anyhow.'”

Interferon combined with ribavirin, another antiviral drug, works on about 30 to 40 percent of U.S. patients with the chronic disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Side effects include flu-like symptoms, thyroid problems and depression.

Though there are vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, there is none for the C strain.

Anderson said she will start the treatment in December, after she has had time to prepare her children. Waiting more than four months might seem unwise, but Te said hepatitis C is such a slow infection that a few months won’t make much difference.

Anderson wouldn’t elaborate on what arrangements she was making for her kids, but she told King she didn’t trust her ex to care for them.

“They’ve never had a relationship with their father since they were born,” Anderson said.

Lee, the former Motley Crue drummer, has denied Anderson’s charge that he also has hepatitis C.

As for her marriage plans to Kid Rock, she appears to be wavering.

“We’re just working on things,” Anderson said. “We love each other very much but it’s a difficult life. I want what’s best for my kids.”

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