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Reuters Health Information (2003-11-14): TNF-alpha blockers seem safe for arthritis patients with HCV infection


TNF-alpha blockers seem safe for arthritis patients with HCV infection

Last Updated: 2003-11-14 11:15:48 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - When used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha antagonists seem to have little effect on liver blood tests or virus levels in patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), new research shows.

Although TNF-alpha blockers are an affective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, there has been concern about their safety in patients with chronic infections, according to the report published in the November issue of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

To investigate, Dr. M. H. Wener and colleagues, from the University of Washington in Seattle, measured liver enzyme levels and assessed HCV viral load in 24 rheumatoid arthritis patients with HCV who were treated with etanercept or infliximab.

During a median follow-up period of 9 months, no significant changes in HCV viral load were seen with either anti-TNF agent, the researchers note. Similarly, liver test results at follow-up were not significantly different from those at baseline.

"Long term and larger studies are needed to confirm our results, but the short term data are reassuring," the authors conclude.

Ann Rheum Dis 2003;62:1078-1082.

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