Reuters Health Information (2005-01-06): Pegylated interferon alfa-2b effective for chronic hepatitis B
Pegylated interferon alfa-2b effective for chronic hepatitis B
Last Updated: 2005-01-06 18:30:27 -0400 (Reuters Health)
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Approximately one third of
patients with chronic hepatitis B become negative for hepatitis B e
antigen (HBeAg) when treated with pegylated interferon alfa-2b
(PegIntron, Schering-Plough), a multinational research team reports in
the January 8th issue of The Lancet. However, combination treatment
with lamivudine is no more effective than monotherapy.
Dr. Harry L. A. Janssen, at University Medical Center Rotterdam and
his colleagues randomly assigned 166 patients to combination therapy
with weekly doses of PegIntron 100 micrograms and daily lamivudine 100
mg, or PegIntron monotherapy. PegIntron dose was lowered to 50
micrograms/week after 32 weeks.
At the end of week 52, serum HBeAg loss was documented in 44% in the
combination group and 29% in the monotherapy group. But at the end of
follow-up (week 78), sustained response was noted in 35% and 36%,
HBV DNA suppression to below 200,000 copies per mL showed similar
results: 74% versus 29%, respectively, at week 52, and 32% versus 27%
at week 78.
HBeAg loss rates at the end of follow-up were dependent on HBV
genotype, with those in group A (47%) and B (44%) having higher
responses than those in group C (28%) and D (25%).
Dr. Janssen's group points out that long-term therapy with
lamivudine is not considered an option because of the development of
high rates of drug resistance.
"Rates of sustained clearance of serum HBeAg and reduction of viral
load are as high as or higher than those that have previously been
reported for any other therapy in this indication," the authors