Treatment options for nonresponders and relapsers to initial therapy for hepatitis C

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As treatment for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has advanced over the past decade, efforts have evolved to retreat patients who did not achieve a sustained virologic response to previous antiviral regimens. Retreating nonresponders to interferon alfa monotherapy with a combination of interferon and ribavirin yields a sustained virologic response in 9% to 32% of patients, whereas retreatment with peginterferon alfa plus ribavirin yields a sustained virologic response in up to 30% to 40% of patients. Sustained virologic response is more likely in retreated patients with HCV genotype 2 or 3, low serum HCV RNA levels, and lack of response to prior interferon monotherapy. Retreatment of nonresponders to interferon-ribavirin combination therapy is associated with lower response rates (< or = to 20%). Despite treatment advances, the efficacy of current antiviral regimens for nonresponders remains inadequate. The next few years will see more-targeted antiviral regimens for these patients and therapies focused on slowing the progression of liver disease rather than viral eradication.


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