Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of two different daily doses of interferon-α (lymphoblastoid-IFNα-N1, Wellferon®) [IFNα] for 2 months, followed by the same dose on alternate days for up to 1 year, versus administration on alternate days for 1 year. Patients and methods: A non-blind, randomised study of outpatients with chronic hepatitis C at five centres in Sicily, Italy. Ninety-seven consecutive treatment-naïve patients [72 patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1b infection] with histological chronic hepatitis C were included in the study and randomised to receive IFNα subcutaneously: 5 million international units (MIU) daily for 2 months, followed by the same dose on alternate days for up to 1 year (n = 33, group A); 3 MIU for 2 months, followed by the same dose on alternate days for up to 1 year (32, group B); 5 MIU on alternate days for 12 months (32, group C). Adverse effects were monitored through interviews and by clinical and biochemical check-ups at 1-month intervals. Results: There were no significant differences between the three groups with regard to age, gender, HCV genotype distribution, or severity of histological findings. Seven patients dropped out of the study because of severe adverse effects: three from group A, two from group B, and three from group C. Approximately 30% of the 97 patients, equally distributed between the three groups, had a 'flu-like syndrome of mild-to-moderate intensity. Dosage reduction of IFNα from 5 MIU to 3 MIU daily was necessary in two patients in group A during the first month of treatment. Overall, 88 patients completed treatment as scheduled. After the induction phase, HCV was eradicated from the bloodstream in 27 patients (81.8%) from group A versus 15 (46.9%) from group B (p < 0.001) and 15 (46.9%) from group C (p < 0.001). The switch to maintenance dosages caused some infection breakthroughs, with the result that at the end of treatment 16 patients in group A, 12 in group B and 14 in group C had undetectable serum levels of HCV-RNA. After treatment discontinuation, however, five patients in group A, four in group B and six in group C became HCV-RNA positive. Thus, at the end of follow-up, 11 patients in group A, eight in group B and eight in group C had a sustained virological response. Conclusion: The present study shows that induction therapy with 5 MIU of IFNα administered daily for 2 months is well tolerated and that the percentage of patients with viral eradication at the end of this phase is higher than the percentage obtained with traditional therapy. Unfortunately, this good initial response decreases as treatment continues with conventional therapy, thus nullifying the benefits of the induction phase.
|Numero di pagine||9|
|Rivista||Clinical Drug Investigation|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2002|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes