Adding ribavirin to interferon improves treatment response for patients with chronic Hepatitis C, but the effects of ribavirin monotherapy are unclear.
Dr Jesper Brok and research team from Denmark assessed the benefits and harms of ribavirin monotherapy for patients with chronic Hepatitis C.
The team identified randomized trials through the Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group Controlled Trials Register.
The research team also searched The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, and EMBASE up to 2005.
|Ribavirin had no significant effect on liver-related morbidity|
|American Journal of Gastroenterology|
The primary outcomes were sustained virological response and liver-related morbidity plus all-cause mortality.
Secondary outcomes included end-of-treatment virological response, biochemical response, histological response, and adverse events.
The researchers identified 11 randomized trials with 521 patients.
The team noted that 10 trials had unclear control of bias.
Ribavirin had no significant effect on sustained or end-of-treatment virological response.
The researchers found that ribavirin had no significant effect on liver-related morbidity plus mortality.
It significantly improved histological response and end-of-treatment biochemical response, but not sustained biochemical response.
In addition, the team observed that ribavirin significantly increased the risk of anemia and treatment discontinuation.
Dr Brok's team concluded, “There was no evidence to support ribavirin monotherapy for patients with chronic Hepatitis C, but trials were small and type II errors cannot be excluded.”
“Patients intolerant to interferon should not continue treatment with ribavirin alone outside randomized trials.”