Re-treatment of chronic hepatitis C patients after relapse: efficacy of peginterferon-alpha-2a (40 kDa) and ribavirin.
We conducted a randomized multinational study to determine whether 48 weeks of re-treatment with peginterferon-alpha-2a (40 kDa) plus ribavirin would induce a sustained virological response (SVR) in relapsed chronic hepatitis C patients. Patients who had previously relapsed during 24 weeks of untreated follow-up, after having achieved an end-of-treatment virological response with 24 weeks of peginterferon-alpha-2a (40 kDa)/ribavirin combination therapy, within a phase III trial, were studied. Although the recommended dosage was the same as that used at the end of the initial trial, adjustments were permitted. Data on serious adverse events, or adverse events that resulted in dose reductions or discontinuations, were collected. Following re-treatment, the overall SVR rate in the 64 patients was 55%. The SVR rates in patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 and non-1 genotypes were 51% and 63%, respectively. Early (week 12) virological responses were seen in 39 patients (61%) and were predictive of an SVR. Re-treatment was well tolerated. The most frequent adverse events recorded were fatigue (5%) and abdominal pain (3%). Dosages of peginterferon-alpha-2a (40 kDa) and/or ribavirin were modified because of adverse events in 3% and 13% of patients, and because of laboratory abnormalities in 23% and 5% of patients, respectively. Thus, a 48-week course of peginterferon-alpha-2a (40 kDa) plus ribavirin induces an SVR in 55% of patients who relapsed during follow-up after 24 weeks of combination therapy. Physicians should not hesitate to offer re-treatment to patients who relapse after an initial, 24-week course of combination therapy, or who have prematurely stopped treatment because, for example, of laboratory abnormalities.
Berg, C; Goncales, FL; Bernstein, DE; Sette, H; Rasenack, J; Diago, M; Jensen, DM; Graham, P; Cooksley, G
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