In this multicenter, randomized trial, we evaluated the effectiveness of meloxicam – a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug – as an adjuvant for enhancing antiviral efficacy and preventing neutropenia during the treatment of patients with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C using peginterferon and ribavirin.Methods
A total of 60 patients were randomly assigned, in a 1:1 ratio, to either the meloxicam or the control group after stratification by neutrophil count. Both groups received weekly peginterferon-α-2a (180 μg) and a weight-based dose of ribavirin for 48 weeks. The meloxicam group received meloxicam (10 mg/day) for the first 8 weeks after initiation of treatment.Results
Through intent-to-treat analysis, we found that the sustained virological response rate in the meloxicam group (19/30, 63.3%) was significantly higher than in the control group (11/30, 36.7%, P < 0.05). The relapse rate was more than twice as high (45%) in the control group than in the meloxicam group (19.0%); however, this difference was not statistically significant. The rate of neutrophil decrease, calculated by dividing the lowest value observed during the first 8 weeks by pretreatment count, was significantly smaller in the meloxicam group (55.1 ± 14.3%) than in the control group (62.3 ± 9.6%, P < 0.05).Conclusion
Meloxicam enhanced antiviral efficacy and reduced the decline in neutrophil counts for the peginterferon and ribavirin treatment of genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C. This drug could be a reasonable adjuvant for the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C. The present study including a small number of patients warrants larger clinical trials.