At present the prognosis of chronic hepatitis C after interferon therapy is poorly defined.
Dr Fumio Imazeki and his team at Chiba University in Japan examined the effect of interferon therapy on survival in 459 patients with hepatitis C.
Mortality rates were estimated from medical records and patient questionnaires.
Of the 104 patients who were not treated with interferon, 14% died during follow-up, compared to only 9% of the 355 patients who had received interferon therapy.
The standardized mortality ratio for liver related death was reduced from 19.7 to 7.9 in patients treated with interferon.
Interferon therapy was particularly effective in patients with a sustained virologic response to treatment.
|Interferon treatment reduced the risk ratio of liver-related death to 0.208 compared with untreated patients.|
Interferon treatment was not associated with liver unrelated death.
Dr Imazeki concludes that interferon therapy has a long-term clinical benefit for hepatitis C patients.
However, Dr Rafael Esteban, writing in an editorial in the same journal, adds a note of caution, “The study was retrospective and non-randomized, so the interpretation of the results is difficult”