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Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2010 Oct;66(10):1055-63. doi: 10.1007/s00228-010-0868-4. Epub 2010 Jul 22.

Epoetin alpha improves the response to antiviral treatment in HCV-related chronic hepatitis.

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  • 1Hepatology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine and Systemic Diseases, University of Catania, S. Marta Hospital, Via Gesualdo Clementi, 36, 95124 Catania, Italy.



The conventional antiviral treatment of chronic hepatitis related to hepatitis C virus (HCV) often leads to anemia. In this case, it is necessary to reduce ribavirin dose or stop treatment, thus reducing the rate of sustained virological response.


We investigated whether epoetin alpha administration improves treatment adherence and leads to higher percentage of response at the end of therapy and sustained virological response.


Two hundred and fourteen individuals with genotype 1b HCV-related chronic hepatitis underwent treatment with pegylated (peg)-interferon alpha-2A 180 μg once weekly and ribavirin 1,000-1,200 mg/day; 174 were responders. Forty individuals completed treatment with no hemoglobin reduction; 134 developed anemia during therapy. Anemic responders were distributed randomly into two groups: group 1 continued therapy with epoetin alpha addiction; group 2 continued antiviral therapy with ribavirin reduction only.


Patients in group 1 achieved better control of hemoglobin levels (13.8 ± 1.2 g/dl at the end of therapy) than those in group 2 (11.5 ± 0.8 g/dl). Sustained virological response was 59.7% in group 1 compared with 34.4% in group 2 (p<0.01).


In patients with 1b HCV-related chronic hepatitis who develop anemia during antiviral treatment, administration of epoetin alpha increases hemoglobin levels and the end-of-treatment rate and sustains virological response by improving treatment adherence.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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