Peginterferon alfa-2b and ribavirin for 12 vs. 24 weeks in HCV genotype 2 or 3

N Engl J Med. 2005 Jun 23;352(25):2609-17. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa042608.


Background: We hypothesized that in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 2 or 3 in whom HCV RNA is not detectable after 4 weeks of therapy, 12 weeks of treatment is as effective as 24 weeks.

Methods: A total of 283 patients were randomly assigned to a standard 24-week regimen of peginterferon alfa-2b at a dose of 1.0 mug per kilogram weekly plus ribavirin at a dose of 1000 mg or 1200 mg daily, on the basis of body weight. Of these, 70 patients were assigned to the 24-week regimen (standard-duration group) and 213 patients to a variable regimen (variable-duration group) of 12 or 24 weeks, depending on whether tests for HCV RNA were negative or positive at week 4. The primary end point was HCV that was not detectable by polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) assay 24 weeks after the completion of therapy.

Results: In the standard-duration group, 45 (64 percent) patients had HCV that was not detectable by PCR assay at week 4, as compared with 133 (62 percent) in the variable-duration group (difference [the rate in the standard-duration group minus that in the variable-duration group], 2 percent; 95 percent confidence interval, -11 to 15 percent). Fifty-three patients (76 percent) in the standard-duration group and 164 patients (77 percent) in the variable-duration group had a sustained virologic response (difference, -1 percent; 95 percent confidence interval, -13 to 10 percent). Fewer patients in the variable-duration group receiving the 12-week regimen had adverse events and withdrew than in the group receiving the 24-week regimen (P=0.045). The rate of relapse (defined as HCV not detectable at the end of treatment but detectable at the end of follow-up) was 3.6 percent in the standard-duration group and 8.9 percent in the variable-duration group (P=0.16). Overall, the rate of sustained virologic response was 80 percent among patients with HCV genotype 2 and 66 percent among those with genotype 3 (P<0.001).

Conclusions: A shorter course of therapy over 12 weeks with peginterferon alfa-2b and ribavirin is as effective as a 24-week course for patients with HCV genotype 2 or 3 who have a response to treatment at 4 weeks.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antiviral Agents / adverse effects
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Hepacivirus / genetics*
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / virology
  • Humans
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / administration & dosage*
  • Interferon-alpha / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Recurrence
  • Ribavirin / administration & dosage*
  • Ribavirin / adverse effects


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • RNA, Viral
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Ribavirin
  • peginterferon alfa-2b