A key variable measured by the study was sustained viral response, defined as undetectable serum hepatitis C RNA after the treatment-free follow-up period.
Overall, patients treated with the peginterferon alfa-2a plus ribavirin combination achieved a 56 percent sustained response rate as compared to patients taking Rebetron (44 percent). Patients with genotype 1 had a sustained response rate of 46 percent, compared to patients on Rebetron (36 percent) and those on Pegasys plus placebo (21 percent).
A retrospective analysis of the data showed that response to PEG interferon alpha-2a plus ribavirin is predictable. At week 12, 86 percent of patients treated with PEG interferon demonstrated an early viral response; of these, 65 percent attained a sustained viral response. However, 97 percent of patients who did not respond by week 12 failed to achieve a sustained response.
"This means that physicians can create an alternate treatment plan for patients who do not show any response by week 12," said Fried. "And for those who do respond, it can be a motivation to continue to adhere to their treatment regimens."
Dr. Fried added that these treatment decisions must be individualized for each patient.
The hepatitis C virus is a life-threatening viral infection of the liver transmitted primarily through infected blood and blood products. Approximately 2.7 million Americans and 170 million people worldwide are chronically infected with the virus, which is often described as "silent" because people may be infected for 10 to 30 years and not exhibit symptoms, yet still be carrying the virus.
While many patients with the hepatitis C virus will not develop complications from their liver disease, chronic hep
Contact: Leslie Lang
University of North Carolina School of Medicine