News from Hepatitis Week of May 4, 2003 / Vol. 3 No. 18

Study: Extended Therapy Benefits Difficult-to-Treat Hepatitis C Patients

Extending peginterferon plus ribavirin therapy to 72 weeks in late responders with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C can produce a sustained virologic response, according to a study reported in the May issue of Hepatology.

Less than half of the patients with genotype 1 reach sustained virologic response after 48 weeks of treatment of peginterferon plus ribavirin.

Researchers at the Gastroenterology Institute in Kaplan, Israel, conducted a small study involving nine patients with chronic hepatitis C of the difficult-to-treat genotype 1 variety. All the patients were treated with pegylated interferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin.

In all patients, HCV RNA was positive at week 12 of therapy but undetectable at week 24 and throughout the 72 weeks of therapy.

"This study, with a small number of patients, showed that prolonged combination therapy with peginterferon and ribavirin is very useful in late virologic responders because it increases sustained virologic response," concluded the researchers.

The researchers said their findings merit further study, using the optimal doses of peginterferon and ribavirin for longer duration versus the current standard 48-week therapy in such patients.

Other sources: Hepatology 37 (5):1226