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New Data Suggests Interferon-Free Therapy Around the Corner for HCV Patients
Date:4/19/2012

ibavirin (RBV) treatment[10] and in 10-14% of patients, side effects are so severe that treatment must be discontinued.[8],[9]

However, studies have shown that achieving a virologic response in chronic HCV is much more dependent on the dose of IFN-α[11]/PegIFN-α[12],[13],[14] than RBV[15],[16],[17],[11],[18]. As such, PegIFN-α free therapy is highly anticipated by healthcare professionals and patients alike.

EASL's Secretary General Professor Mark Thursz commented on the exciting new data being showcased at the congress: "In the future, patients can look forward to all oral treatment regimens with high success rates and low side effects. Furthermore, there is a large cohort of patients with more advanced liver disease who will now be able to access treatment that was previously impossible due to the side effects of Interferon-alpha. Over the last five years we have seen an evolution in HCV treatment, with direct antivirals used in combination with Pegylated Interferon and Ribavirin. Interferon-free regimes truly represent a revolution in treatment."

Separate data presented at the congress may provide a further option. New results from a phase IIb study[19] show a different form of interferon - pegylated Interferon-lambda (PegIFN-λ) - administered with RBV for 24 weeks in HCV GT2 & 3 patients gives comparable SVR24 (undetectable HCV RNA levels 24 weeks after treatment) to PegIFN-α-2a and RBV, but with fewer side effects (musculoskeletal and flu-like symptoms, hematologic toxicity) and dose modifications for PegIFN or RBV.

Professor Thursz commented: "It remains possible that a number of patients will still need interferon based therapy for their HCV infection. Interferon-lambda, with a better side effect profile, looks like an excellent option in this group of patients, who are likely to have more advanced disease."

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SOURCE European Association for the Study of the Liver
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