New proposal for response-guided peg-interferon-plus-ribavirin combination therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus genotype 2 infection

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This study aimed to determine the most suitable duration of pegylated-interferon (Peg-IFN)-plus-ribavirin combination therapy in patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 2 who had not achieved rapid virological response (serum HCV RNA disappearance after 4 weeks of therapy). HCV genotype 2 patients (n = 182) with a high viral load received >80% of the standard Peg-IFN-plus-ribavirin dose for at least 24 weeks, and their final virological responses were studied. Patients were classified into “rapid virological response” and “non-rapid virological response” groups. The non-rapid virological response group was further divided into a “virological response at 8 weeks” (serum HCV RNA disappearance after 8 weeks of therapy) and a “non-virological response at 8 weeks” group. Factors related to rapid virological response and optimal therapy duration in the non-rapid virological response group were evaluated. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that subtype HCV genotype 2a (P = 0.0015) and low concentration of pretreatment serum HCV RNA (P = 0.0058) were independent factors in a rapid virological response. In the virological response at 8 weeks group, the sustained virological response rate after 24 weeks of therapy was significantly lower than after 36 weeks (P = 0.044) or after 48 weeks (P = 0.006), and was similar for 36- and 48-weeks. The cost for achieving (CAS) one sustained virological response was lowest with 36-week therapy. Prolongation of Peg-IFN-plus-ribavirin combination therapy to 36 weeks is suitable for achieving virological response at 8 weeks, given the high, sustained virological response rate and cost benefit. J. Med. Virol. 85:1523–1533, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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