Background/aims: Initial high-dose interferon-α induction therapy in combination with ribavirin improves sustained response rates in treatment-naïve patients. This prospective, randomized, controlled study tested whether non-responders or relapsers to interferon monotherapy also benefit from induction therapy.
Methods: Patients with chronic hepatitis C who had not responded to (n=75) or relapsed (n=80) after previous interferon therapy were randomized to receive three different interferon doses during the first 14 weeks of therapy (A: 10 MU IntronA®/day for 2 weeks, followed by 10 MU/2 days for 12 weeks; B:5 MU/d for 14 weeks; C: 5 MU/2 days for 14 weeks) followed in all by 5 MU/2 days for 24 weeks. All patients received 1–1.2 g ribavirin/day throughout the whole study.
Results: The rates of viral clearance at any time on treatment were similar in all groups. Sustained response rates were also not different among the groups in interferon nonresponders (A 32%, B 29%, C 31%) and relapsers (A 64%, B 68%, C 71%), respectively, as well as in patients with different genotypes. As expected, sustained response rates were higher in patients with genotype non-1 than in those with genotype 1.
Conclusion: High-dose induction therapy does not improve the outcome of interferon/ribavirin therapy in interferon nonresponders or relapsers.