With the favorable result of interferon (IFN)-ribavirin combination therapy for 24 weeks among naive Taiwanese chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients, the optimal regimens of re-treatment for CHC patients who failed initial IFN monotherapy is not well-established. The study evaluated the effectiveness of re-treatment for 24 weeks with 3 different regimens and predictors for sustained virological response (SVR).
Methods: Total 120 Taiwanese CHC patients (81 males, 70 relapsers, mean age: 48.6 years) who failed initial IFN monotherapy were enrolled. They were assigned randomly (with a ratio of 1:1:2) to receive one of the three regimens for re-treatment for 24 weeks; group A: IFN 6 million units (MU) monotherapy (N=30), group B: combination therapy with ribavirin and IFN 3 MU (N=30) or group C: combination therapy with ribavirin and IFN 6 MU (N=60). The intention-to-treat rate of sustained virological response (SVR) was 38.3%. The SVR rate in group C (53.3%) was significantly higher than group A (16.7%, P<0.005) and group B (30%, P<0.05). Drop-out rates were similar between the three groups. Patients achieving SVR had significant improvement histologically. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype non-1b infection, lower pretreatment HCV RNA levels, combined with ribavirin and with higher IFN dose, and relapsers were independent predictors for SVR.
Conclusion: We concluded that more than one-third Taiwanese CHC patients achieved SVR after 24 weeks re-treatment and combination therapy, especially with higher dose of IFN, yielded higher efficacy.