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J Hepatol. 1995;23 Suppl 2:17-21.

Combination treatment with interferon alfa-2b and ribavirin for chronic hepatitis C in patients who have failed to achieve sustained response to interferon alone: Swedish experience.

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Department of Immunology, Microbiology, Pathology and Infectious Diseases, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge, Sweden.



Only 10-20% of patients treated with interferon alfa alone attain long-term benefits. More effective regimens are needed.


Twenty Swedish patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection, ten with a prior non-response and ten with a non-sustained response to interferon alfa treatment alone, were treated with interferon alfa-2b and ribavirin in combination for 24 weeks, then followed up for another 24 weeks. Patients received interferon alfa-2b subcutaneously 3 MU thrice weekly and oral ribavirin 1000-1200 mg/day.


All ten patients with a prior non-sustained response to interferon alone had a sustained biochemical response with normal aminotransferase levels at follow-up; nine also had a sustained viral response with a negative HCV-RNA test in serum. Among the ten patients with a prior biochemical non-response to interferon alone, five had normal aminotransferase levels at the end of therapy; four were negative for HCV RNA in serum. At follow-up, three had normal aminotransferase levels and a negative HCV-RNA test in serum. No major adverse effect was seen, apart from fatigue and an expected fall in hemoglobin levels from a mean of 155 g/l to 124 g/l at the end of therapy. All patients completed the treatment schedule, but the ribavirin dose was reduced in one patient because of a fall in hemoglobin to 99 g/l.


These results indicate that combination treatment with interferon alfa-2b and ribavirin offers a chance of sustained biochemical response and virus eradication in a subset of patients who fail to achieve sustained response with interferon alfa alone.

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