IFI Institute for Interdisciplinary Medicine, Asklepios Klinik St Georg, Hamburg, Germany.
Treatment of chronic hepatitis B (CHB) with nucleos(t)ide analogs is often required over a prolonged period to achieve durable virologic suppression. One barrier to the success of long-term therapy is the emergence of drug-resistant mutants. Current guidelines therefore recommend the most potent drugs with optimal resistance profiles, that is, entecavir and tenofovir are used as first-line monotherapies in CHB. Characteristics of the hepatitis B virus, the disease, the patient and the drug can influence the response to antiviral treatment and risk of relapse. This review discusses factors to consider maximizing the chances of successful long-term treatment of CHB, and provides an overview of the long-term efficacy and safety data that have become available over the 4-5 years since entecavir and tenofovir were first approved for the treatment of CHB. Recent findings on whether and under what circumstances long-term therapy of CHB might be stopped are also discussed.