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Retreatment Benefits Some Hepatitis C Non-Responders

But new approaches, including combinations of direct antiviral agents, are needed for patients

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with chronic hepatitis C infection who fail to respond to standard antiviral therapy, retreatment with either pegylated interferon alfa plus ribavirin or pegylated interferon alfa plus ribavirin in combination with antiviral therapies may lead to a sustained virologic response, according to a study in the September issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Ira M. Jacobson, M.D., of the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, reviewed 11 clinical trials of retreatment in patients who did not respond to standard interferon plus ribavirin combination therapy.

The author found that 48 weeks of retreatment with pegylated interferon alfa plus ribavirin resulted in sustained virologic response in 10 to 20 percent of patients who previously failed standard treatment and in 6 to 8 percent of those who previously failed a course of pegylated interferon alfa plus ribavirin. He also found that 72 weeks of retreatment was associated with higher rates of sustained virologic response, and that long-term, low-dose interferon-based maintenance treatment had no significant effect on clinical outcomes.

"Finally, specifically targeted antiviral therapies for hepatitis C have shown promising results in preclinical and early-stage clinical trials when combined with pegylated interferon alfa plus ribavirin," the author concludes. "Novel approaches, including combinations of direct antiviral agents, are needed to achieve major improvements in the treatment of non-responders."

Schering-Plough funded editorial assistance for this study; the author reported financial relationships with Schering-Plough and other pharmaceutical companies.

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