Interferon does not slow or halt the progression of chronic hepatitis C and advanced liver disease in patients who haven’t responded to previous attempts to eradicate the disease, a national study in which the Saint Louis University School of Medicine participated has found.

 

Patients in the trial who were treated with interferon did experience a significant decrease in viral levels and liver inflammation, but the trial unequivocally demonstrated that treatment with long-term pegylated interferon – also called peginterferon – does not prevent the worsening of liver disease in patients who’ve failed prior treatments

 

“The results are this study are very clear – long-term therapy with peginterferon for those with chronic hepatitis C is not effective in preventing progression of liver disease for patients who did not respond to an initial course of treatment,” said Adrian Di Bisceglie, M.D., professor of internal medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and chairman of the trial’s steering committee.

Results of the study were reported by Di Bisceglie at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease in Boston this week.

 

The randomized, multi-site study involved 1,050 patients with chronic hepatitis C who’d failed prior treatments to eradicate the infection. All had advanced liver fibrosis – a gradual scarring of the liver that puts patients at risk for progressive liver disease.

 

At the end of the study, while patients treated with interferon did have significantly lower blood levels of the hepatitis C virus and less liver inflammation, 34.1 percent of them had experienced one or more of the following outcomes: excess fluid in the abdomen; brain and nervous system damage; cirrhosis (for those who did not have it initially); liver cancer; or death. Of patients in the control group, 33.8 percent experienced one or more of the outcomes.

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