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Shorter Treatment Duration for Hepatitis C May Be OK

Patients with rapid virological response may do well with an abbreviated course of therapy

TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- In the treatment of hepatitis C virus infection, a shorter duration of treatment with pegylated interferon (IFN) and ribavirin may be acceptable in patients who rapidly clear the virus, according to two articles published in Hepatology in January.

Alessandra Mangia, M.D., of Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza Hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, and colleagues randomized 696 treatment-naive patients with chronic hepatitis C virus genotype 1 to treatment with Peg-IFN alfa-2a or alfa-2b plus ribavirin for the standard duration of 48 weeks of treatment, or to an individualized duration of treatment based on initial virologic response during the first 12 weeks of therapy. No significant difference in the rates of sustained virological response was noted in the standard duration group compared to the variable duration group.

In a second study, Olav Dalgard, M.D., of Ulleval University Hospital in Oslo, Norway, and colleagues randomly assigned 428 treatment-naive hepatitis C virus genotype 2 or 3 patients to receive treatment with pegylated IFN alfa-2b and ribavirin for 14 or 24 weeks. After 24 weeks, 86.3 percent of patients treated for 14 weeks achieved a sustained virological response compared to 93.2 percent of those treated for 24 weeks.

Dalgard and colleagues conclude, "although longer treatment may give slightly better sustained virological response rate, we believe considerable economical savings, good response to re-treatment and less side effects make it rational to treat patients with genotype 2 or 3 and rapid virological response for only 14 weeks."

Abstract - Mangia
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Abstract - Dalgard
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