Pôle Hépato-digestif, Hôpitaux Universitaires de Strasbourg.
Boceprevir was the first agent, along with telaprevir, of a novel class of direct-acting antivirals that entered clinical practice for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. Boceprevir is an antiprotease that directly blocks hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication. Two studies in patients with HCV genotype 1 infection have shown that addition of boceprevir to the standard of care, ie, pegylated interferon-alfa (PEG-IFN-α) and ribavirin, markedly increased the rate of sustained virological response. A sustained virological response was obtained in about 70% of patients who had never been treated, as well as in 69%-75% and 40% of previous relapsers and nonresponders to PEG-IFN-α-ribavirin, respectively. Side effects were observed in almost all treated patients. Anemia, the most frequent adverse event related to administration of boceprevir, occurred in about 50% of patients. The decision to add boceprevir to the standard of care is made on an individual basis, and takes into account the prognosis of the liver disease, the efficacy of therapy, as it could be at best predicted, and the side effects that may arise, taking into account the comorbidities of the patient. Ultimately, the treatment must be accepted by the patient, who should fully understand the benefits and risks. Boceprevir trials were designed with the concept of individualized and response-guided therapy which establishes treatment decisions on how rapidly patients respond to treatment. Individualized therapy for chronic hepatitis C is based on patient and viral characteristics to make the best choice about whether a person will benefit from therapy and to evaluate on-treatment predictors of response to shorten therapy in patients with a rapid response as well as in patients who did not respond sufficiently to expect HCV eradication. This review focuses on the main results obtained so far, their impact on the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C, and potential therapeutic perspectives.