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Abstract

Boceprevir (BOC) added to peginterferon alfa-2b (PegIFN) and ribavirin (RBV) significantly increases sustained virologic response (SVR) rates over PegIFN/RBV alone in previously untreated adults with chronic hepatitis C genotype 1. We evaluate the relationship of incident anemia with triple therapy. A total of 1,097 patients received a 4-week lead-in of PegIFN/RBV followed by: (1) placebo plus PegIFN/RBV for 44 weeks (PR48); (2) BOC plus PegIFN/RBV using response-guided therapy (BOC/RGT); and (3) BOC plus PegIFN/RBV for 44 weeks (BOC/PR48). The management of anemia (hemoglobin [Hb] <10 g/dL) included RBV dose reduction and/or erythropoietin (EPO) use. A total of 1,080 patients had ≥1 Hb measurement during treatment. The incidence of anemia was 50% in the BOC arms combined (363/726) and 31% in the PR48 arm (108/354, P < 0.001). Among BOC recipients, lower baseline Hb and creatinine clearance were associated with incident anemia. In the BOC-containing arms, anemia was managed by the site investigators as follows: EPO without RBV dose reduction, 38%; RBV dose reduction without EPO, 8%; EPO with RBV dose reduction, 40%; and neither RBV dose reduction nor EPO, 14%. SVR rates were not significantly affected by management strategy (70%-74%), and overall patients with anemia had higher rates of SVR than those who did not develop anemia (58%). Serious and life-threatening adverse events (AEs) and discontinuations due to AEs among BOC-treated patients did not differ by EPO use. Conclusion: With BOC/PR therapy, SVR rates in patients with incident anemia were higher than nonanemic patients and did not vary significantly according to the investigator-selected approach for anemia management. Prospective studies are needed to confirm this observation. (HEPATOLOGY 2013)