Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Ann Pharmacother. 2013 Feb;47(2):228-36. doi: 10.1345/aph.1R513. Epub 2013 Feb 5.

Anemia management in patients with chronic viral hepatitis C.

Author information

  • 1School of Pharmacy, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, USA.



To review the literature regarding current strategies for the management of anemia associated with treatment for chronic viral hepatitis C (HCV) in adults.


The MEDLINE/PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases were searched (January 1980-October 2012) for articles in English using the search terms anemia, ribavirin, dose reduction, erythropoietin stimulating agents, hepatitis C, HIV, liver transplant, telaprevir, and boceprevir.


All relevant original studies, meta-analyses, systematic reviews, guidelines, and review articles were assessed for inclusion. References from pertinent articles were examined for additional content not found during the initial search.


Standard of care for patients infected with HCV genotype 1 now requires a triple therapy regimen including an HCV NS3 protease inhibitor. These regimens lead to significantly higher rates of anemia compared to prior dual therapy regimens. Development of an optimal management strategy should begin with risk stratification. Ribavirin dose reductions have been recommended in the package inserts for the pegylated interferon products and studies have demonstrated the need for maintenance of 80% of the initial ribavirin dose to achieve optimal sustained virologic response (SVR) with dual therapy. The use of erythropoietin-stimulating agents has been shown to be effective for anemia caused by peginterferon and ribavirin without compromising SVR rates. Limited data have been published regarding the management of anemia with triple therapy; however, efficacy studies for boceprevir and telaprevir have used ribavirin dose reduction and erythropoietin-stimulating agents to successfully manage anemia.


Anemia is a common adverse event associated with the use of ribavirin, and, more recently, the new HCV protease inhibitors. Ribavirin dose reduction should continue to be used as an initial anemia management strategy, with the use of erythropoietin alfa 40,000 units once weekly reserved for patients whose hemoglobin does not adequately respond to initial management strategies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk