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Hepatitis C patients likely to falter in adherence to treatment regimen over time, Penn study shows
Date:9/29/2011

(PHILADELPHIA) Patients being treated for chronic hepatitis C become less likely to take their medications over time, according to a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Since the study also showed better response to the drugs when they're taken correctly, the researchers say the findings should prompt clinicians to assess patients for barriers to medication adherence throughout their treatment, and develop strategies to help them stay on track. The study is published online this month in Annals of Internal Medicine.

"Our findings are particularly timely since many chronic hepatitis C patients are now being prescribed direct-acting antiviral drugs, which have a complex dosing regimen that may be even harder for patients to maintain than the two-drug standard therapy," said lead author Vincent Lo Re, MD, MSCE, an assistant professor of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology. "These data show us that we need to develop and test interventions to help patients be more successful at taking their medicine and have the best chance at being cured."

Literacy issues, financial hurdles, and socioeconomic problems such as unstable living situations can all hamper patients' abilities to properly maintain their drug regimen. The authors suggest that refilling patients' pill boxes for them, creating easy-to-follow dosing and refill schedules, and helping them set alarms to remind them to take their medicine may all help improve adherence.

The Penn researchers studied 5,706 chronic hepatitis C patients who had been prescribed the standard treatment for the virus -- pegylated interferon (given as a single weekly shot) and ribavirin (a twice-daily oral medicine) -- using pharmacy refill data and test results for virologic response during treatment. They found that patients who refilled their prescriptions on time had a higher likelihood of being cured of the infection. However, over the course of pat
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Contact: Holly Auer
holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu
215-200-2313
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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