Two new studies have paved the way for the most effective treatment regimen for Hepatitis C patients.
Researchers have shown that treatment with peginterferon alpha-2a (PegIFNa2a) plus ribavirin (RBV) better suppresses the virus to undetectable levels in the blood than treatment with peginterferon alpha-2b (PegIFNa2b) plus RBV.
Patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are frequently treated with a combination of peginterferon, either PegIFNa2a or PegIFNa2b, and RBV.
This combination, which is the treatment of choice, has increased sustained virological response (SVR) rates from less than 20 percent to more than 60 percent.
"Head-to-head trials comparing the efficacy and safety of PegIFNa2a or PegIFNa2b in combination with RBV in the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C are needed," said Dr Massimo Colombo, of the University of Milan and author of one of the head-to-head studies published in Gastroenterology.
"There is insufficient evidence to support conclusions that one therapeutic regimen is superior to the other one," Colombo added.
In the first study, previously untreated patients with chronic hepatitis C were randomly assigned after stratification for HCV genotype to either RBV combined with PegIFNa2a or PegIFNa2b for 24 or 48 weeks, according to virus genotype.
The team found that overall, the SVR rate was significantly higher in PegIFNa2a than in PegIFNa2b.
"Whether our strategy of RBV dosing, which is at variance with the standard of care for PegIFNa2a treatment, is indeed cost-effective, needs to be prospectively assessed through a pharmaco-economy study," added Dr. Colombo.
The findings appear in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute.