Daily interferon may be OK alternative for hep C treatment

Daily dosing with interferon for the treatment of hepatitis C can be tolerated by patients and may be a viable alternative in some cases.   But that suggestion from poster presentations here at Digestive Disease Week was qualified by at least one U.S. researcher involved in this work who said nothing striking has yet developed with interferon therapy in terms of producing a sustained response.  During a discussion of several hepatitis C posters Dr. Michael Freed from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta said there are almost as many interferon treatment regimens as there are hepatologists.  “I think we are making progress with this issue of daily high dose induction therapy” he said. “I think it’s not the (total) dose of interferon … it’s the daily dosing that will make a difference.”  Ideal dose question  Poster presenter Dr. Robert Gish an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco said the one issue that remains is the ideal daily dose of interferon to obtain the best response.  Several U.S. studies presented at the meeting suggest daily administration of high-dose interferon is superior to less frequent dosing either given to induce an initial response or on an ongoing basis.  One of these studies from researchers at several centres in Chicago evaluated four weeks of high induction daily doses of interferon alpha-2b in patients who had previously failed interferon therapy.  A total of 77 patients received four weeks of daily interferon induction therapy (10 MU daily for the first two weeks then 5 MU daily).  HCV RNA levels became undetectable in 35% of patients who had relapsed at the end of regular interferon therapy and in 14% of patients who were non-responders to regular therapy.  The researchers commented the high doses were “better tolerated than expected” with the interferon dose being reduced in eight patients due to side-effects and stopped in one patient who developed acute appendicitis.  Another study demonstrated positive results with 5 MU of daily interferon alpha-2b given over 24 weeks regardless of viral load or genotype.  An analysis of the impact of daily interferon dosing on the quality of life of hepatitis C patients found daily dosing was well tolerated.  The study was presented by researchers from the departments of pharmacy practice and medicine at the University of Illinois Chicago.

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