What is the efficacy of combination ribavirin and propylene glycol (PEG)-interferon (IFN) therapy for hepatitis C (hep C) infection?

Updated: Oct 07, 2019
  • Author: Vinod K Dhawan, MD, FACP, FRCPC, FIDSA; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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In a study of ribavirin in combination with either PEG-IFN alfa-2b or PEG-IFN alfa-2a for the treatment of chronic HCV infection, Ascione et al reported a higher SVR rate with PEG-IFN alfa-2a (68%) than with PEG-IFN alfa-2b (54.4%). [88] SVR rates were not statistically different in patients with a baseline HCV RNA of 500,000 IU/mL or below or in those with cirrhosis. [88]

In a similar trial, Rumi et al reported that treatment with ribavirin plus PEG-IFN alfa-2a resulted in a significantly higher SVR rate than ribavirin plus PEG-IFN alfa-2b. The two regimens showed a similar safety profile. [89]

In a study of patients coinfected with HCV and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) with compensated cirrhosis, Mira et al found that SVR to PEG-IFN plus ribavirin significantly reduced the incidence of liver-related decompensations and overall mortality. [90] The probability of hepatic decompensation was 0% at 1 year and 4% at 3 years for SVR patients, compared with 15% and 32%, respectively, for non-SVR patients. The probability of overall mortality was 0% at 1 year and 4% at 3 years for SVR patients, compared with 12% and 20%, respectively, for non-SVR patients. [90]

In conclusion, treatment with PEG-IFN alfa-2a and ribavirin may be individualized by genotype. Patients with HCV genotype 1 require treatment for 48 weeks and a standard dose of ribavirin; those with HCV genotype 2 or 3 seem to be adequately treated with a low dose of ribavirin for 24 weeks. [91]

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