Introduction: Approximately 170 million people are infected with HCV. The efficacy of treatment for chronic hepatitis C has increased markedly over the last 2 decades. Optimal patient management requires thorough knowledge of the adverse effect profiles of drugs used for this condition and strategies to mitigate these effects.
Areas covered: The efficacy, safety and tolerability data associated with IFN-based therapy, with particular attention given to the two licensed pegylated IFNs (peg-IFNs), are identified by focused searches of Medline. Recommendations for the management of adverse events are also given. Focused searches of PubMed are done using the terms peginterferon and chronic hepatitis C. The results of large randomized clinical trials are emphasized.
Expert opinion: Patients receiving treatment with peg-IFN plus ribavirin for chronic hepatitis C must be monitored closely for adverse events. These events can be effectively managed to maximize patients' adherence and thus the chance of treatment success. Direct-acting antiviral agents are expected to be approved in the near future and will be used in select patients with a peg-IFN plus ribavirin 'backbone'.