News from Hepatitis Week of Jan. 25, 2004/ Vol. 4 No. 01
Study: Actimmune Fails to Reverse Liver Damage in Hepatitis C Patients

A trial involving the drug Actimmune® (interferon gamma-1b) has not lived up to hopes that it might be a way of treating advanced liver disease in hepatitis C patients who have failed other treatments.

Researchers evaluated the safety and ability of interferon gamma-1b treatment over a 48-week treatment period in such patients.

Although the Phase II clinical trial found Actimmune to be well-tolerated by the participants, the main goal of reversing liver damage was not met, according to the drug's maker InterMune.

Dr. James Pennington, executive vice president at InterMune, said earlier intervention in patients with milder liver disease over a longer period of time might be necessary to demonstrate that the drug is effective.

Interferon gamma is a naturally occurring protein that stimulates the immune system. InterMune already markets Actimmune for the treatment of chronic granulomatous disease and severe malignant osteopetrosis, both of which are life-threatening congenital diseases.

Griffin Murray, a spokesman for InterMune, told Medical Week that the company is no longer going to focus on developing Actimmune as a treatment for liver damage in hepatitis C patients in the short term.

"We won't focus on liver fibrosis, but the infection causing the fibrosis," he added, noting that InterMune would focus in the short term on Infergen plus Actimmune to treat hepatitis C nonresponders.

Other sources: InterMune