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Combination therapy with ribavirin and interferon (IFN)-alpha for 6 to 12 months is currently the treatment of choice for chronic hepatitis C infection. The overall sustained response rate to treatment, defined as loss of hepatitis C virus (HCV) from serum 6 months after completion of treatment, is 40%. The indications for treatment are serum HCV RNA positivity, abnormal serum transaminases and the presence of portal fibrosis and/or moderate/severe inflammation. Response rates are lower in genotype 1 than in genotype 2 or 3 and in the presence of a high viral load. Anaemia is the most common adverse event and is due to ribavirin; neuropsychiatric adverse effects due to IFNalpha lead to premature cessation of therapy in 10 to 20% of patients. The current recommended dose of interferon is 3MU given subcutaneously 3 times a week. However, it is likely that longer-acting pegylated interferons, which may be more effective and can be administered once weekly, will in the future replace currently used IFNalpha.

Type

Journal article

Journal

BioDrugs

Publication Date

2001

Volume

15

Pages

225 - 238

Keywords

Antiviral Agents, Drug Monitoring, Drug Therapy, Combination, Female, Genotype, Hepatitis C, Chronic, Humans, Interferon-alpha, Liver Cirrhosis, Male, Polyethylene Glycols, RNA, Recombinant Proteins, Ribavirin