Pegylated interferon (peg-interferon) alfa-2a (Pegasys®, Roche), combined with ribavirin (Rebetol tablet, Schering), is now available for the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV). This combination is intended for adults with compensated liver disease and who have not previously taken alpha interferons. (Please see the December 2002 issue of P&T for a review of peg-interferon.)
More patients who received peg-interferon alfa-2a plus ribavirin showed a sustained response to the virus, with the absence of detectable HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA) six months after discontinuation of therapy, compared with patients who received inter-feron-alfa-2b plus generic ribavirin or peg-inter-feron alfa-2a alone.
A once-weekly dose was well tolerated and resulted in improvements in the rate of sustained virologic response.