In patients chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 4, the optimum duration of therapy and the predictors of sustained virologic response (SVR) have not been adequately determined. In this study, 358 patients with chronic hepatitis C genotype 4 were randomly assigned to pegylated interferon (PEG‐IFN) alpha‐2b (1.5 μg/kg/week) plus oral ribavirin (10.6 mg/kg/day) for a fixed duration of 48 weeks (control group, n = 50) or for a variable duration (n = 318). In the variable‐duration group, patients with undetectable HCV RNA at week 4 were treated for 24 weeks (group A, n = 69), patients with undetectable HCV RNA at week 12 were treated for 36 weeks (group B, n = 79), and the rest of the patients were treated for 48 weeks (group C, n = 160). The primary endpoint was SVR (undetectable HCV RNA 24 weeks after treatment cessation). Groups A‐C and the control group had SVR rates of 86%, 76%, 56%, and 58%, respectively. After the study was controlled for predictors, a low baseline histologic grade and stage were associated with SVR (P < 0.029) in all groups. In addition, among patients in group C, older age (P = 0.04), a higher baseline body mass index (P = 0.013), and low baseline HCV RNA (P < 0.001) were also associated with SVR attainment. The incidence of adverse events and the rate of discontinuation were higher in patients in the variable‐duration and fixed‐duration groups treated for 48 weeks. Conclusion: In patients with chronic hepatitis C genotype 4 and undetectable HCV RNA at weeks 4 and 12, treatment with PEG‐IFN alpha‐2b and ribavirin for 24 weeks and 36 weeks, respectively, is sufficient. (HEPATOLOGY 2007.)
Hepatology – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 2007
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