Long-term efficacy of ribavirin plus interferon alfa in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C

Gastroenterology. 1996 Nov;111(5):1307-12. doi: 10.1053/gast.1996.v111.pm8898645.


Background & aims: Sustained response to interferon treatment for chronic hepatitis C is unsatisfactory. This study examined whether combining interferon alfa with ribavirin induces a better sustained efficacy than interferon alone in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.

Methods: Sixty noncirrhotic patients with chronic hepatitis C were randomly assigned to three groups. Group 1 received 1200 mg oral ribavirin daily plus 3 million units of recombinant interferon alfa 2a thrice weekly for 24 weeks, group 2 received the same dose of interferon alfa 2a alone for 24 weeks, and group 3 received no treatment. The patients were then followed up for an additional 96 weeks.

Results: At the end of treatment, a complete response (normal serum alanine aminotransferase level and undetectable serum hepatitis C virus RNA) was achieved in 16 of the 21 patients in group 1 (76%), as compared with 6 of 19 in group 2 (32%) and none in group 3. At 96 weeks after the end of treatment, patients in group 1 sustained a higher complete response rate than patients in group 2 (43% vs. 6%).

Conclusions: Combined treatment with ribavirin and interferon alfa 2a for 24 weeks is more effective than interferon alfa 2a alone for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. The biochemical and virological responses were sustained in about one half of the treated patients for at least 2 years after cessation of the therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Chronic Disease
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Hepatitis C / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis C / pathology
  • Humans
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / administration & dosage*
  • Interferon-alpha / adverse effects
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Ribavirin / administration & dosage*
  • Ribavirin / adverse effects


  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • RNA, Viral
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Ribavirin
  • Alanine Transaminase