Background: The differential tolerability profile of various interferon (IFN)-α preparations used in combination with ribavirin for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C needs to be elucidated. Approximately 8% of patients receiving recombinant IFNα-2b plus ribavirin discontinue treatment because of adverse events. Human leucocyte IFNα is deemed to have a better safety profile than recombinant IFNα. We therefore compared the safety profile and efficacy of ribavirin combined with leucocyte IFNα or with recombinant IFNα-2b in treatment-naive patients with chronic hepatitis C. Study design: We randomised 423 patients to either leucocyte IFNα 3MU three times weekly plus ribavirin (210 patients) or the same dose of recombinant IFNα-2b plus ribavirin (213 patients). Patients were treated for 24 weeks and followed-up for a further 48 weeks. The primary endpoint was the safety profile of the two therapies; the secondary endpoint was the rate of sustained response. Results: In patients receiving leucocyte IFNα, the total number of adverse events was lower than in the group receiving recombinant IFNα (259 vs 441 patients), and the percentage of patients discontinuing treatment because of adverse events or laboratory abnormalities was significantly reduced (4% vs 11%; p = 0.013). Sustained response was observed in 47% of patients receiving leucocyte IFNα plus ribavirin and in 44% of patients receiving IFNα-2b plus ribavirin. Conclusions: Both therapeutic regimens were effective in inducing a sustained response in naive patients. However, the safety profile of leucocyte IFNα plus ribavirin was more favourable than that observed with the administration of recombinant IFNα-2b plus ribavirin, suggesting that leucocyte IFNα may be an alternative option in patients with reduced tolerability to other IFNs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)