The case for combination antiviral therapy for chronic hepatitis B virus infection

Lancet Infect Dis. 2008 Jul;8(7):444-8. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(08)70102-6. Epub 2008 May 14.


The treatment of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection has been revolutionised in the past decade by the increased availability of effective antiviral agents. Many studies have shown the benefits of single agent therapy, but there is an alarming and rising rate of viral resistance, and clear evidence that viruses that harbour resistant mutations can cause liver disease and death. Current national guidelines for the treatment of HBV recommend a programme that starts with monotherapy, followed by sequential monotherapy or add-on therapy for those infections in which mutations have arisen. Very few studies starting with combination therapy have been undertaken, so there is little evidence of the clinical benefit of this approach to treatment. The studies that have been done have been short term and have concentrated on clinical parameters rather than virological resistance, which is likely to be the key determinant in the longer term. We argue that we should not wait for the evidence to use combination therapy for the treatment of HBV, since such trials may never be done and it would take several years for a benefit to become apparent. In the meantime, multidrug-resistant strains continue to hinder HBV control.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drug Resistance, Viral
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Hepatitis B virus / drug effects
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Humans


  • Antiviral Agents