Conference Coverage

HCV treatment with DAA regimens linked to reduced diabetes risk



– Treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) with new direct-acting antiviral (DAA) regimens is associated with improved glucose control and reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes when compared to treatment with pegylated interferon/ribavirin (PEG/RBV ) and untreated controls, according to a new analysis of the Electronically Retrieved Cohort of HCV Infected Veterans.

Dr. Adeel Butt, Weill Cornell Medicine Jim Kling/MDedge News

Dr. Adeel Butt

“Previously, people who had diabetes were considered slightly more difficult to treat because their virologic response was a little lower, but now this is not the case, and we have the added benefit of reducing the incidence of diabetes,” said Adeel Butt, MD, professor of medicine and health care policy and research at Weill Cornell Medicine, New York and Qatar, in an interview. Dr. Butt presented the study at the Conference on Retroviruses & Opportunistic Infections.

The incidence of diabetes dropped in the overall treated cohort, compared with untreated patients, but this benefit was driven by the effect of DAAs, as there was no significant difference between PEG/RBV–treated patients and controls. “It’s another reason to argue with people who make it difficult to treat. Our biggest barriers to treating everyone with hepatitis C has to do with reimbursement and the capacity of the health care system, and this is another reason that we need to overcome those barriers. It’s an important insight that provides one more reason to try to continue to eradicate hepatitis C in our population,” said Robert Schooley, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, in an interview.

Patients may also need some reassurance, given concerns that have arisen over the potential for older regimens to cause diabetes. Dr. Butt cited an example of a patient who has an acute myocardial infarction, has a high body mass, and wants to know if DAAs will help or hurt them. “We see [such patients] frequently. This is pretty reassuring not only that DAAs don’t increase risk, but they actually decrease the risk of diabetes as opposed to older treatments. There is a growing body of evidence that non–liver [related conditions] significantly improve with treatment,” he said.

The results could also help prioritize patients for treatment. “It may be important to the patients who are at elevated risk of developing diabetes. They may need to be monitored more closely and offered treatment earlier, perhaps, but that requires more study,” said Dr. Butt.

The researchers excluded patients with HIV or hepatitis B virus, and those who had prevalent diabetes. The cohort included 26,043 treated patients and 26,043 propensity score–matched untreated control patients. Treated patients underwent at least 8 weeks of DAA or 24 weeks of PEG/RBV. Demographically, 54% of patients were white, 29% were black, 3% were Hispanic, and 96% of the patients were male. About one-third had a body mass index of 30 or above.

The incidence of diabetes was 20.6 per 1,000 person-years of follow-up among untreated patients, compared with 15.5 among treated patients (P less than .0001). The incidence was 19.8 in patients treated with PEG/RBV (P =.39) and 9.9 in those treated with DAAs (P less than. 001; hazard ratio, 0.48; P less than .0001). The incidence of diabetes in those with a sustained viral response (SVR) was 13.3 per 1,000 person-years, compared with 19.2 in patients with no SVR (P less than .0001). The incidence of diabetes was lower in treated patients regardless of baseline FIB-4 (Fibrosis-4, a liver fibrosis score) levels.

The study was funded by Gilead. Dr. Butt has had research grants from Gilead and Dr. Schooley is on Gilead’s scientific advisory board.

SOURCE: A Butt et al. CROI 2019. Abstract 88.

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