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Keywords:

  • hepatitis C;
  • interferon;
  • ribavirin;
  • adverse event;
  • prediction

Abstract

Purpose

Treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C with alpha-interferon and ribavirin usually produces adverse events within the first 3 months. We aimed to assess safety and predictors of discontinuation or dose modification of these drugs.

Methods

Observational study of 312 patients with predominantly genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C treated openly along 5 years in a clinical practice setting.

Results

Eighty-four percent of patients experienced at least one adverse event (853 events in total, 3.3 per patient on average). Incidence rate was higher during the first 90 days and decreased thereafter (<5%). Discontinuation rates at 30 and 90 days and at end of treatment were 2, 4 and 8%, respectively. Seventy percent of discontinuation cases were due to adverse events rather than to laboratory abnormalities. Serious adverse events were rare (<1%). Dose modifications were made in 158 patients (51%) on 237 occasions. After adjusting for covariates, older age was a predictor of early discontinuation, whereas HCV genotypes 1–4 and daily ribavirin dose of 1000 mg or more were predictors of dose modification.

Conclusions

The majority of real-world patients with chronic hepatitis C tolerate acceptably dual therapy and very few discontinue it. Subjective decisions on dose reduction of either compound appears to have a major impact on adherence of patients. There is a need to better define, collect and analyse clinical features which may predict adverse events and safety-related decisions during therapy of chronic hepatitis C. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.