Adding the drug amantadine to the treatment regimen of hepatitis C patients appears to be effective in increasing response to the standard therapy, according to a study reported in the October issue of the Journal of Hepatology.
Amantadine is used to treat Parkinson's disease and respiratory infections caused by the influenza A virus.
Because a significant portion of hepatitis C patients fail to respond to the standard therapy of interferon-alpha plus ribavirin, researchers are trying to find other combinations that may have anti-hepatitis C virus activity.
One option is a combination of the antiviral drug amantadine and interferon. A team of researchers from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe Clinic at the University of Frankfurt in Germany studied 225 non-responders to interferon-alpha alone or in combination with ribavirin.
Some of the patients were treated with interferon alpha and ribavirin for 48 weeks. A group of 115 of the study participants also receive amantadine sulphate for 48 weeks along with interferon alpha and ribavirin.
The participants who received interferon/ribavirin treatment with amantadine had a higher sustained virologic response rate, compared with those treated with interferon alpha plus ribavirin alone (25 percent versus 18 percent).
"The addition of amantadine was well tolerated and led to an improvement of sustained virologic responses compared with retreatment with interferon-alpha and ribavirin alone, in particular in patients with low baseline viremia," concluded the researchers.
Journal of Hepatology 2003 Oct;39(4):606-13