Chronic hepatitis C is often responsive to therapy with interferon alone. However, relapse after interferon monotherapy is common.
For those who relapse after interferon treatment, the benefit of another course of interferon has been evaluated by a number of studies, though its efficacy remains unclear.
In 1996 Dr Eveline Boucher and colleagues initiated a study comparing the efficacy and the safety of a 12-month retreatment with interferon alone to treatment with interferon plus ribavirin in patients with chronic hepatitis C relapse.
191 relapsers were randomized to receive 3 million units three times a week of interferon alpha with or without 1-1.2g/day ribavirin.
The results of the study were published in the August issue of Liver international
| Sustained virological response was seen in 61% of patients taking interferon and ribavirin and only 8% of patients receiving interferon alone.|
A sustained virological response to treatment was seen in 61% of patients who received combined interferon and ribavirin. Only 8% of patients who received interferon alone had a sustained virological response.
A significant histological improvement was observed in both treatment groups.
The Metavir activity score became significantly lower in patients treated with interferon plus ribavirin compared to those receiving interferon alone.
Dr Boucher concludes "The therapeutic schedule of interferon combined with ribavirin can be considered of considerable interest for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C relapsers."