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Reuters Health Information (2008-06-19): Longer treatment course advisable with hepatitis C genotype 6


Longer treatment course advisable with hepatitis C genotype 6

Last Updated: 2008-06-19 16:09:51 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - There is a higher rate of sustained virologic response in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 6 infection who are treated for 48 weeks with peginterferon or interferon and ribavirin, compared to those who receive only 24 weeks of treatment, according to California-based investigators.

Dr. Mindie H. Nguyen of Stanford University Medical Center, Palo Alto and colleagues note that this genotype is common in HCV patients from parts of China and Southeast Asia. However, there have been no studies of treatment and response in this group of patients, they point out in the May issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

The researchers retrospectively examined data on 190 Asian-Americans who received an HCV genotype 6 diagnosis. Of this group, 66 were treatment-naive. The drop-out rate was high due to contraindications, inability to pay for medication, and other reasons.

The treatment-na�ve patients were treated for either 24 or 48 weeks with peginterferon plus ribavirin or interferon plus ribavirin.

In the 54 patients for whom follow-up data were available, significantly more patients treated for 48 weeks with the peginterferon combination (75%) showed a sustained virologic response compared to those who received the shorter treatment course (39%).

There was a trend, but no significant difference in response in patients who were treated with peginterferon rather than the interferon combination for 24 weeks (39% versus 51.6%).

Dr. Nguyen told Reuters Health that further studies are required to confirm the optimal duration of therapy, "but given these findings, patients who are treatment eligible should receive a full course of 48 weeks of peginterferon and ribavirin as tolerated."

In fact, she added that results from a multicenter randomized controlled study of the sustained virologic response of patients HCV genotype 6 "treated for 24 versus 48 weeks are expected to be available early next year."

Am J Gastroenterol 2008;103:1131-1135.

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