Doctors in the USA compared peginterferon alpha-2b with interferon alpha-2b for the initial treatment of chronic hepatitis C.
1219 patients with chronic hepatitis C took part in the randomized, double blind study.
Patients were randomly assigned to receive either peginterferon alpha-2b or interferon alpha-2b. Interferon alpha-2b was administered as the standard three-times-weekly dose of 3 million international units. Patients randomized to peginterferon received 0.5, 1.0, or 1.5 µg/kg once weekly.
All patients received 48 weeks of treatment and were followed up for an additional 24 weeks.
|Peginterferon alpha-2b significantly improved virologic response rates.|
Virologic response rates were measured by the loss of detectable serum HCV RNA.
All 3 doses of peginterferon alpha-2b significantly improved virologic response rates compared with interferon alpha-2b.
Peginterferon alpha-2b reduced liver inflammation to a greater extent than interferon alpha-2b.
Doses of 1.0 or 1.5 µg/kg peginterferon resulted in an improved sustained virologic response compared to the lower dose of the drug (0.5 µg/kg).
Although a dose of 1.5 µg/kg peginterferon gave a better end-of-treatment response than 1.0 µg/kg, sustained treatment response was no better. This was due to a higher relapse rate, particularly among patients with viral genotype 1.
The research team reported no new adverse effects from peginterferon. Severe adverse effects from either treatment were rare.
Dr Karen Lindsay, who led the research, concludes, "Peginterferon alpha-2b surpassed the clinical efficacy of interferon alpha-2b while preserving its safety value."
Peginterferon alpha-2b is marketed as PegIntronTM.