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Gilead's Sovaldi Tied to Slow Heartbeat in Hepatitis C Patients

Gilead Sciences Inc.’s blockbuster hepatitis C medicine Sovaldi may trigger an abnormally slow heartbeat and put patients at risk of passing out, according to French doctors who said treatments containing the drug should be used with caution.

The report, in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, detailed episodes of a slowing heart rate that developed within the first 10 days of Sovaldi therapy in three of 415 patients treated in 2014 at the Hopital Cochin’s hepatology and cardiology group in Paris. All three received pacemakers within a week to ensure their hearts maintained a healthy rhythm.

The report of potential heart toxicity with Sovaldi comes less than a month after AbbVie Inc.’s rival medicine Viekira Pak was tied to the deaths of seven patients from liver failure, prompting U.S. regulators to restrict use of the drug in select patients and urge closer supervision for others. The French doctors said patients getting Sovaldi, known chemically as sofosbuvir, or other treatments that...