Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 12753338
J. Viral Hepat. 2003 May;10(3):197-204
Interferon-alpha (IFN) monotherapy results in sustained virological clearance in a minority of patients with chronic hepatitis C. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of a reinforced regimen combining ribavirin and high-dose IFN for 48 weeks compared with a nonreinforced regimen combining a standard IFN regimen and ribavirin for 24 weeks in nonresponders with chronic hepatitis C. A total of 231 patients with chronic hepatitis C and previous nonresponse to IFN monotherapy were randomized. The reinforced group (n = 114) received IFN-2b 6 million units (MU) thrice weekly (TIW) and ribavirin for 48 weeks, and the nonreinforced group (n = 117) received IFN-2b 3 MU TIW and ribavirin for 24 weeks. The main outcome measure was a sustained virological response, defined as negative serum hepatitis C virus (HCV)-RNA 24 weeks following the end of treatment. This endpoint was determined in 98 patients of the reinforced group and 105 patients of the nonreinforced group. At the end of follow-up, a sustained virological response was observed in 29 of the 98 patients (29.6%) in the reinforced group vs 16 of the 105 patients (15.2%) in the nonreinforced group (P = 0.014). In multivariate analysis, factors associated with a sustained virological response were treated with a reinforced regimen [odds ratio (OR) 2.9; P = 0.06] and genotype 2 or 3 (OR 8.8; P < 0.0002). A total of 160 patients had paired biopsies before and after treatment. Histological activity improvement was observed in 32 of 80 patients (40%) and fibrosis worsening in 26 of 80 patients (33%) in the reinforced group vs 13 of 80 (16%) and 19 of 80 (24%) in the nonreinforced group (P = 0.30 and 0.20, respectively). Hence in nonresponders, a high-dose 48-week regimen of IFN and ribavirin combination was more effective than a regimen with interferon at lower dose and ribavirin for 24 weeks only.