Background: Peginterferon-ribavirin therapy is the current standard of care for chronic infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV). The rate of sustained virologic response has been below 50% in cases of HCV genotype 1 infection. Boceprevir, a potent oral HCV-protease inhibitor, has been evaluated as an additional treatment in phase 1 and phase 2 studies.
Methods: We conducted a double-blind study in which previously untreated adults with HCV genotype 1 infection were randomly assigned to one of three groups. In all three groups, peginterferon alfa-2b and ribavirin were administered for 4 weeks (the lead-in period). Subsequently, group 1 (the control group) received placebo plus peginterferon-ribavirin for 44 weeks; group 2 received boceprevir plus peginterferon-ribavirin for 24 weeks, and those with a detectable HCV RNA level between weeks 8 and 24 received placebo plus peginterferon-ribavirin for an additional 20 weeks; and group 3 received boceprevir plus peginterferon-ribavirin for 44 weeks. Nonblack patients and black patients were enrolled and analyzed separately.
Results: A total of 938 nonblack and 159 black patients were treated. In the nonblack cohort, a sustained virologic response was achieved in 125 of the 311 patients (40%) in group 1, in 211 of the 316 patients (67%) in group 2 (P<0.001), and in 213 of the 311 patients (68%) in group 3 (P<0.001). In the black cohort, a sustained virologic response was achieved in 12 of the 52 patients (23%) in group 1, in 22 of the 52 patients (42%) in group 2 (P=0.04), and in 29 of the 55 patients (53%) in group 3 (P=0.004). In group 2, a total of 44% of patients received peginterferon-ribavirin for 28 weeks. Anemia led to dose reductions in 13% of controls and 21% of boceprevir recipients, with discontinuations in 1% and 2%, respectively.
Conclusions: The addition of boceprevir to standard therapy with peginterferon-ribavirin, as compared with standard therapy alone, significantly increased the rates of sustained virologic response in previously untreated adults with chronic HCV genotype 1 infection. The rates were similar with 24 weeks and 44 weeks of boceprevir. (Funded by Schering-Plough [now Merck]; SPRINT-2 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00705432.).