, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 341-349
Date: 21 Sep 2005

Current therapy for hepatitis C

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Abstract

Introduction

Pegylated interferon alfa in combination with ribavirin has been established as standard therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection with sustained virologic response rates of 54–63%. The duration of therapy depends on the HCV genotype with currently 48 weeks for genotype 1 and 24 weeks for genotypes 2 and 3.

Results and discussion

The probability of sustained virologic response is very low (<1–2%) in genotype-1-infected patients without a 2-log decline of HCV RNA concentration after 12 weeks of therapy, and treatment can therefore be discontinued early.

Conclusion

Efficient treatment of the multiple side-effects of interferon-based antiviral therapy is essential in order to improve compliance, prevent dose reduction or early discontinuation and therefore enhance the probability of sustained response. Future developments of interferon-based therapy aim at the individualisation of the duration of therapy according to the kinetics of viral reduction. Furthermore, direct antiviral drugs, which are currently under investigation in phase I/II clinical trials, will fundamentally expand the treatment options of HCV infection in the next few years.