Aim: Comparing the efficacy of peginterferon alpha-2b plus ribavirin with interferon alpha -2b plus ribavirin in Saudi patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) commonly infected with genotype 4.
Methods: A total of 96 patients with chronic HCV infection were randomly assigned to two treatment groups. Forty-eight patients received once weekly 100 microg of peginterferon alpha-2b plus ribavirin given orally 800 mg/day (peginterferon group). Another 48 patients received thrice weekly 3 million units of interferon alpha-2b plus ribavirin 800 mg/day (interferon group). At the end of treatment (48 weeks) and sustained (72 weeks) biochemical and virologic responses were determined.
Results: In the peginterferon group, 70.8% (34/48) patients attained both biochemical and virologic responses at the end of the treatment as against 52.1% (25/48) patients in the interferon group. (P=0.09 for both). Similarly, sustained biochemical and virologic responses in the peginterferon group were attained in 52.1% (25/48) and 43.8% (21/48) patients as against 43.8% (21/48) and 29.2% (14/48) patients in the interferon group, respectively (P=0.54 and 0.20, respectively). The sustained virologic response rates in patients with genotype 4 were 42.9% (12/28) in the peginterferon group and 32.3% (10/31) in the interferon group (P=0.43). Patients in peginterferon group had higher, although statistically not significant adverse reactions.
Conclusions: Saudi patients with chronic HCV attained a higher, although statistically not significant sustained virologic response with pegylated interferon plus ribavirin compared with interferon plus ribavirin.