Chronic viral hepatitis C: management update

Gutfreund, Klaus S.; Bain, Vincent G.; Gutfreund, K S; Bain, V G
March 2000
CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal;3/21/2000, Vol. 162 Issue 6, p827
Academic Journal
journal article
The management of chronic viral hepatitis C is evolving rapidly. Monotherapy with interferon, the accepted standard of treatment until recently, achieves only a modest sustained virological response rate of 15%. Combination treatment with alpha-2b interferon and ribavirin has been shown to increase sustained response rates to 40% in patients who have never been treated with interferon and to 50% in those who have relapsed following monotherapy with interferon. However, side effects, which have led to the discontinuation of combination treatment in a significant proportion of patients, must be carefully monitored. Treatment with interferon alpha-2b and ribavirin has now been approved in Canada, but the selection and monitoring of patients suitable for combination treatment requires special expertise. Although improvements in current therapeutic options may be possible with more frequent, higher doses or long-acting forms of interferon together with ribavirin, low sustained response rates (i.e., below 30%) for patients with hepatitis C virus genotype 1 emphasize the need for novel antiviral medications that will target the functional sites of the HCV genome.


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