Adjuvant epoetin-β with peginterferon-α and ribavirin in Japanese ribavirin-intolerant relapsed patients with chronic hepatitis C genotype 2


  • Conflict of interest: None declared.


Erythropoietin is widely used in the USA and some other Western countries to maintain doses of ribavirin during peginterferon/ribavirin-based treatment for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. However, the impact of erythropoietin on sustained virological response (SVR) is unclear. Here, we report the cases of three Japanese ribavirin-intolerant relapsed patients with HCV genotype 2 who achieved SVR from retreatment by adding erythropoietin. Three women aged 50, 64 and 68 years with chronic HCV genotype 2 received retreatment with peginterferon-α and ribavirin. During their prior therapy, HCV RNA became negative according to real-time polymerase chain reaction at weeks 4–8 in all three patients; however, the total dose of ribavirin was 18.1–30.6% lower than the planned dose, and HCV RNA relapsed post-treatment. At present, epoetin-β 24 000 IU was introduced at weeks 2 or 3 of dual-combination therapy, resulting in a less than 4.2% reduction in the total dose of ribavirin. HCV RNA became negative at weeks 4–8, and all patients achieved SVR. Until the next-generation antiviral treatments for HCV genotype 2 become available, the addition of erythropoietin to dual therapy can be a treatment of choice for ribavirin-intolerant relapsed patients.