Background/aims: Current therapies for patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) do not achieve sustained viral clearance in most patients, and are associated with severe toxic effects. Our aim was to investigate the efficacy and safety of etanercept as adjuvant to interferon and ribavirin in treatment-naive patients with HCV.
Methods: Double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial. Fifty patients with chronic HCV were randomly assigned to receive interferon alfa-2b and ribavirin with either etanercept or placebo for 24 weeks. The main outcome measure was the absence of HCV RNA at 24 weeks, the on treatment response at the end of the etanercept randomization period.
Results: At 24 weeks, HCV RNA was absent in 63% (12/19) etanercept patients compared to 32% (8/25) placebo patients (P=0.04). In addition, patients receiving etanercept had lower frequency of most adverse events categories compared to placebo.
Conclusions: Etanercept given for 24 weeks as adjuvant therapy to interferon and ribavirin significantly improved virologic response at the end of the etanercept randomization period among patients with HCV, and was associated with decreased incidence of most adverse effects associated with interferon and ribavirin.