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Combo Treatments Appear to Be Equally Effective for Hep C

Good responses seen with peginterferon alfa-2b or alfa-2a combined with ribavirin

WEDNESDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with hepatitis C virus genotype 1 infection, three different treatment regimens of standard-dose or low-dose peginterferon alpha-2b or peginterferon alfa-2a, in combination with ribavirin are equally safe and effective, according to a study published online July 23 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

John G. McHutchison, M.D., of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and colleagues randomly assigned 3,070 patients to receive either standard-dose or low-dose peginterferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin, or peginterferon alfa-2a plus ribavirin for 48 weeks.

The researchers found no significant differences in the rates of sustained virologic response associated with standard-dose peginterferon alfa-2b, low-dose peginterferon alfa-2b, and peginterferon alfa-2a (39.8, 38, and 40.9, respectively). For the three groups, relapse rates were 23.5, 20, and 31.5 percent, respectively. The researchers also found that the three regimens had a similar safety profile, with rates of serious adverse events ranging from 8.6 to 11.7 percent.

"The finding that low-dose peginterferon alfa-2b resulted in a similar rate of sustained virologic response as the other regimens was unexpected," the authors conclude.

The study was supported by grants from Schering-Plough; several authors reported financial relationships with the company.

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