Pegylated interferon alfa and ribavirin for 14 versus 24 weeks in patients with hepatitis C virus genotype 2 or 3 and rapid virological response


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


A recent nonrandomized pilot trial showed that hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients with genotype 2/3 and rapid virological response (RVR) had a 90% sustained virological response (SVR) rate after 14 weeks of treatment. We aimed to assess this concept in a randomized controlled trial. In the trial, 428 treatment-naïve HCV RNA–positive patients with genotype 2 or 3 were enrolled. Patients with RVR were randomized to 14 (group A) or 24 (group B) weeks of treatment. Patients were treated with pegylated interferon α-2b (1.5 μg/kg) subcutaneously weekly and ribavirin (800-1400 mg) orally daily. The noninferiority margin was set to be 10% between the two groups with a one-sided 2.5% significance level. RVR was obtained in 302 of 428 (71%), and 298 of these were randomized to group A (n = 148) or group B (n = 150). In the intention-to-treat analysis, SVR rates were 120 of 148 (81.1%) in group A and 136 of 150 (90.7%) in group B (difference, 9.6%; 95% confidence interval, 1.7-17.7). Among patients with an HCV RNA test 24 weeks after the end of treatment, 120 of 139 (86.3%) patients in group A achieved SVR compared with 136 of 146 (93.2%) in group B (difference, 6.9%; 95% confidence interval, −0.1 to +13.9). Conclusion: We cannot formally claim that 14 weeks of treatment is noninferior to 24 weeks of treatment. However, the SVR rate after 14 weeks of treatment is high, and although longer treatment may give slightly better SVR, we believe economical savings and fewer side effects make it rational to treat patients with genotype 2 or 3 and RVR for only 14 weeks. (HEPATOLOGY 2007.)