News from Hepatitis Week of July 20, 2003 / Vol. 3 No. 29

Pegasys Therapy Shortened for Some European Hepatitis C Patients

European patients with easier-to-treat forms of chronic hepatitis C will not have to stay on long-term therapy needlessly thanks to a decision by the European Commission.

The commission recently approved a new label in Europe for Pegasys® (peginterferon alfa 2-a), which is made by Roche Pharmacecuticals.

The decision results from a recent study that found that the length of combination therapy with Pegasys and Copegus® (ribavirin) needed to treat chronic hepatitis C depends on the viral genotype of the patient.

According to the commission, patients infected with genotype 1 should receive 12 months of combination therapy with the standard dose of Copegus, while those with genotype 2 or 3 only need 6 months of combination therapy with a lower dose of Copegus.

Another change to the label is that Pegasys combination therapy no longer requires that a patient have a biopsy confirming the extent of liver disease prior to starting treatment. This may be particularly helpful to patients with easier-to-treat genotype 2 or 3 disease, who may be hesitant to undergo a liver biopsy for a treatment that has a success rate of 80 percent.

Overall, up to 63 percent of hepatitis C patients treated with Pegasys combination therapy achieve a sustained viral response, but only 52 percent of geneotype 1 patients achieved a sustained viral response.

Other sources: Roche