BACKGROUND: Patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C virus (HCV) who do not have a sustained response to therapy with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin have a low likelihood of success with retreatment.
METHODS: We randomly assigned patients with HCV genotype 1 who had not had a sustained virologic response after peginterferon alfa-ribavirin therapy to one of four treatment groups: 115 patients to the T12PR24 group, receiving telaprevir (1125-mg loading dose, then 750 mg every 8 hours) for 12 weeks and peginterferon alfa-2a (180 microg per week) and ribavirin (1000 or 1200 mg per day, according to body weight) for 24 weeks; 113 patients to the T24PR48 group, receiving telaprevir for 24 weeks and peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin for 48 weeks (at the same doses as in the T12PR24 group); 111 patients to the T24P24 group, receiving telaprevir and peginterferon alfa-2a for 24 weeks (at the same doses as in the T12PR24 group); and 114 patients to the PR48 (or control) group, receiving peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin for 48 weeks (at the same doses as in the T12PR24 group). The primary end point was sustained virologic response (undetectable HCV RNA levels 24 weeks after the last dose of study drugs).
RESULTS: The rates of sustained virologic response in the three telaprevir groups--51% in the T12PR24 group, 53% in the T24PR48 group, and 24% in the T24P24 group--were significantly higher than the rate in the control group (14%; P<0.001, P<0.001, and P=0.02, respectively). Response rates were higher among patients who had previously had relapses than among nonresponders. One of the most common adverse events in the telaprevir groups was rash (overall, occurring in 51% of patients, with severe rash in 5%). Discontinuation of study drugs because of adverse events was more frequent in the telaprevir groups than in the control group (15% vs. 4%).
CONCLUSIONS: In HCV-infected patients in whom initial peginterferon alfa and ribavirin treatment failed, retreatment with telaprevir in combination with peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin was more effective than retreatment with peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin alone.