A randomized study of alpha-interferon plus ribavirin for 6 months or 12 months for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C in patients with bleeding disorders
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Little is known about the optimal treatment in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) who were infected by pooled plasma products. The aim of our study was to compare the efficacy of 6 and 12 months of combination therapy with interferon alpha-2b and ribavirin in patients with bleeding disorders and chronic HCV. In a randomized open study, 61 patients with haemophilia or von Willebrand disease received treatment with a combination of interferon alpha-2b and ribavirin at standard dosage for 6 or 12 months. Follow-up was done with analysis of HCV RNA after an additional 6 months. The prevalence of HCV genotype 1 was 67%. Overall, sustained viral response was achieved in 41%; 13 of 30 patients (43%) treated for 6 months vs. 12 of 31 patients (39%) treated for 12 months. The rate of sustained response was 22% in those with HCV genotype 1 and 80% in other genotypes (100% in genotype 2), with no difference between the treatment durations. The number of early discontinuations due to side-effects was 3 and 9, respectively. The study was stopped prematurely due to introduction of a more effective regimen, and the numbers are not sufficient to state equality. We conclude that the efficacy and safety of combination therapy against chronic hepatitis C in patients infected by pooled plasma products is similar to that observed in other populations. Six months of therapy seems sufficient in the case of HCV genotype 2. For other genotypes, the decision regarding duration of therapy has to be based on the tolerance of the individual patient together with experiences from other studies.
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