Comparing Hepatitis C Treatments

Nationwide study will try to find which regimen gets best results

THURSDAY, May 20, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Patients with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) are being recruited for a nationwide study comparing leading treatments to combat the virus.

Nearly 4 million Americans (about one in 50 adults) are infected with HCV, a potentially fatal virus that infects the liver, blood and other tissues. Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States and the leading cause of liver transplantation in the nation.

The new study is designed to determine which of the two U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved pegylated interferon therapy regimens offers the best chance to eliminate the virus. The study will compare peginterferon alfa-2b and peginterferon alfa-2a, both used in combination with ribavirin.

Interferon is a protein that helps healthy cells defend against viruses while priming the immune system to stop viruses from multiplying. Injected interferon therapy can trigger flu-like side effects, but the recent introduction of pegylated interferon reduces those side effects because injections are only required once per week.

The study will include 2,880 patients at up to 100 hospitals, medical centers, clinics and other treatment sites across the United States.

Information about patient enrollment is available at the researchers' Web site.

More information

The U.S. National Center for Infectious Diseases has more about hepatitis C.

SOURCE: Schering-Plough Corp., news release, May 13, 2004
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