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Can J Gastroenterol. 2000 Jul-Aug;14 Suppl B:21B-29B.

Outcomes research in chronic viral hepatitis C: effects of interferon therapy.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester 01655, USA.


Although chronic hepatitis C (CHC) is often mild and asymptomatic, it may lead to decompensated hepatic cirrhosis and death. CHC is now the single most important indication for liver transplantation in North America. CHC is also an important cause of morbidity. Recent work is reviewed and shows that the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of patients with CHC is markedly reduced compared with that of age- and sex-matched controls. For as yet unknown reasons, this reduction is more severe in CHC patients than in those with chronic hepatitis B. Successful therapy of CHC with type 1 interferons (IFNs) leads to substantial improvement - to nearly normal levels - in patients' HRQOL. In addition, IFN or IFN plus ribavirin therapy for CHC is highly cost effective, despite its limited long term efficacy; estimates of the costs to gain one year of quality-adjusted life range from no cost (that is, therapy is cost saving) to US$11,400 (for those most difficult to cure). Thus, despite the limited effectiveness of current therapies for CHC, they are fully justified based on their beneficial effects on patients' HRQOL and their cost effectiveness.

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