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Hepatitis C treatment reduces the virus but serious liver problems may progress
Date:11/6/2007

The outcomes assessed in HALT-C were death, liver cancer, ascites (excess fluid in the abdomen), or encephalopathy (brain and nervous system damage), and for those who did not have cirrhosis initially, the development of cirrhosis. At the end of the study, 34.1 percent of the patients in the treated group and 33.8 percent of the patients in the control group had experienced at least one outcome. Patients in the treated group had significantly lower blood levels of the hepatitis C virus and less liver inflammation. However, there was no major difference in rates of any of the primary outcomes between groups.

Among treated patients, 17 percent stopped peginterferon by one year and six months and 30 percent stopped the drug two years later. Adverse events such as infections, musculoskeletal or digestive problems were the most common reasons patients stopped taking the drug.

Viral hepatitis C infects more than 100 million persons worldwide and as many as 4 million persons in the United States. Hepatitis C ranks with alcohol abuse as the most common cause of chronic liver disease and leads to about 1,000 liver transplants in the United States each year. The best current antiviral therapy consists of pegylated interferon given by injection in combination with oral ribavirin prescribed for about 6 months to a year. This therapy eliminates the virus in about 50 percent of infected patients.


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Contact: Leslie Curtis
niddkmedia@mail.nih.gov
301-496-3583
NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Source:Eurekalert

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