Source Houston VA Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston, TX; Section of Health Services Research.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Antiviral treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) has high efficacy rates for achieving sustained viral response (SVR) in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) (40% to 80%); however, it can be lower in community-based practice settings. We wanted to determine the effectiveness of HCV treatment in Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals nationwide.
METHODS: Using the nationwide VA HCV Clinical Case Registry (CCR), we examined cohort of veterans who had HCV viremia between 2000 and 2005 and identified patients who received pegylated-interferon (PEG-INF) and ribavirin. The duration of treatment and proportion of patients completing treatment was calculated. The effectiveness of treatment was measured as the proportion of patients who achieved SVR (negative viremia at least 12 weeks after the end of treatment) in the entire cohort, and among patients who initiated and completed treatment.
RESULTS: We identified 99,166 patients with HCV viremia. Of those, 11.6% received PEG-INF with ribavirin and 6.4% completed treatment. Contraindications were present in 57.2% of the patients that did not receive treatment. SVR was documented in 39.9% and 58.3% of patients who completed treatment; 23.6% and 50.6% of patients who initiated treatment; and 3.9% and 11.2% of the entire HCV cohort for genotype 1 or 4 and 2 or 3, respectively. Overall, only 3.5% of the entire HCV viremic cohort had documented SVR.
CONCLUSIONS: Treatment effectiveness for HCV is low. In addition to fixed factors, such as race and virus genotype, the drop in effectiveness is due to low rates of antiviral treatment initiation and treatment completion.