New 'Minimal Monitoring' Approach to HCV Treatment May Simplify Care

Caleb Rans, PharmD

March 15, 2021

A novel minimal monitoring (MINMON) approach to hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment was safe and achieved sustained virology response (SVR) compared to current clinical standards in treatment-naive patients without evidence of decompensated cirrhosis, according to a recent study.

"This model may allow for HCV elimination, while minimizing resource use and face-to-face contact," said investigator Sunil S. Solomon, MBBS, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for simple and safe models of HCV [care] delivery."

Solomon described the new approach to HCV treatment during a presentation at this year's Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections virtual meeting.

ACTG A5360 was an international, single-arm, open-label, phase 4 trial that enrolled 400 patients across 38 treatment sites.

The researchers evaluated the efficacy and safety of the MINMON approach in treatment-naive individuals who had no evidence of decompensated cirrhosis. Study participants received a fixed-dose, single-tablet regimen of sofosbuvir 400 mg/velpatasvir 100 mg once daily for 12 weeks.

The MINMON approach comprised four key elements: no pretreatment genotyping, all tablets dispensed at study entry, no scheduled on-treatment clinic visits/labs, and two remote contacts at weeks 4 (adherence evaluation) and 22 (scheduled SVR visit). Unplanned visits for patients' concerns were permitted.

Key eligibility criteria included active HCV infection (HCV RNA > 1,000 IU/mL) and no prior HCV treatment history. Persons with HIV coinfection (50% or less of sample) and compensated cirrhosis (20% or less of sample) were also eligible. Persons with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and decompensated cirrhosis were excluded.

The primary efficacy endpoint was SVR, defined as HCV RNA less than the lower limit of quantification in the first sample at least 22 weeks post treatment initiation. The primary safety endpoint was any serious adverse events (AEs) occurring between treatment initiation and week 28.

Results

Among 400 patients enrolled, 399 (99.8%) were included in the primary efficacy analysis and 397 (99.3%) were included in the safety analysis. The median age of participants was 47 years, and 35% were female sex at birth. At baseline, 166 (42%) patients had HIV coinfection and 34 (9%) had compensated cirrhosis.

After analysis, the researchers found that remote contact was successful at weeks 4 and 22 for 394 (98.7%) and 335 (84.0%) participants, respectively.

In total, 15 (3.8%) participants recorded 21 unplanned visits, 3 (14.3%) of which were due to AEs, none of which were treatment related. Three participants reported losing study medications and one participant prematurely discontinued therapy due to an AE.

HCV RNA data at SVR were available for 396 participants. Overall, 379 patients (95.0%) achieved SVR (95% confidence interval [CI], 92.4%-96.7%).

"The study was not powered for SVR by subgroups, which explains why we observed wide confidence intervals in our forest plot," Solomon said.

With respect to safety, serious AEs were reported in 14 (3.5%) participants through week 24 visit, none of which were treatment related or resulted in death.

Solomon acknowledged that a key limitation of the study was the single-arm design. As a result, there was no direct comparison to standard monitoring practices. In addition, these results may not be generalizable to all nonresearch treatment sites.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has required us to pivot clinical programs to minimize in-person contact, and promote more remote approaches, which is really the essence of the MINMON approach," Solomon explained.

"There are really wonderful results in the population that was studied, but may reflect a more adherent patient population," said moderator Robert T. Schooley, MD, of the University of California, San Diego.

During a discussion, Solomon noted that the MINMON approach may be further explored in patients who are actively injecting drugs, as these patients were not well represented in the present study.

Solomon disclosed financial relationships with Gilead Sciences and Abbott Diagnostics. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and Gilead Sciences.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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