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Introduction

  1. Top of page
  2. Introduction
  3. Simeprevir (SMV)
  4. Treatment-naïve Patients
  5. Previously-treated Cases (Retreatment)
  6. Conflicts of interest
  7. References

Recently, the management of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been greatly advanced with introduction of direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs) in clinical setting. In Japan, the first DAA, telaprevir (TVR), was approved for patients with chronic hepatitis C in 2011. Along with this, the Japan Society of Hepatology (JSH) produced the first clinical practice guideline for the management of HCV infection, “Guidelines for the Management of Hepatitis C Virus Infection” in May 2012 (English version, 2013[1]). It is our great pleasure that these Guidelines were welcomed and utilized by physicians and other health care providers in daily clinical practices in Japan.

Meanwhile, in September 2013, a second-generation DAA, simeprevir (SMV), was approved for use in Japan. According to Phase III trials in Japan and overseas, SMV has a robust therapeutic effect with better safety profiles compared to TVR. As a result, we have decided to update the clinical guidelines for HCV with launch of this new DAA. SMV has now been approved for use in patients with chronic hepatitis C with genotype 1 and high viral load, and therefore these current Guidelines are updated for patients in this group.

As stated in the previous Guidelines, this is a field that changes rapidly with the accumulation of new evidence, and evidence levels are not shown in the recommendations. At present, several other therapeutic agents are expected to be approved for daily use and we plan to revise these guidelines at appropriate intervals, as new evidence comes to hand.

Simeprevir (SMV)

  1. Top of page
  2. Introduction
  3. Simeprevir (SMV)
  4. Treatment-naïve Patients
  5. Previously-treated Cases (Retreatment)
  6. Conflicts of interest
  7. References

Inhibitors of hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS3-4A protease are classified into 2 groups on the basis of their molecular structures, linear inhibitors with no branches and macrocyclic inhibitors containing macrocycles. Macrocyclic small molecule compounds show superior affinity and selectivity for therapeutic target proteins.[2] Whereas TVR is a first-generation protease inhibitor with linear structure, SMV is a second-generation protease inhibitor with macrocyclic structure discovered during the optimization process for early protease inhibitors.[3] In vitro resistance testing has yielded different drug resistance profiles, due to their different structures, with cross resistance to SMV seen in TVR resistant mutations at amino acids 155 and 156, whereas mutations at amino acids 36, 54 and 170 were sensitive to SMV, and mutations at amino acids 80 and 168 resistant to SMV alone.[4] Pharmacokinetic studies have shown that once daily administration of SMV provides effective plasma levels 24 h post-dose.[5] SMV shows inhibitory activity against HCV genotypes 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, with particularly strong anti-proliferative action against genotypes 1a and 1b. In September 2013, the use of SMV in clinical setting was approved in combination with Peg-IFN + RBV in patients with chronic hepatitis C with genotype 1 and a high viral load (≥5.0 log IU/mL).

Therapeutic results

Phase II trials of SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV combination therapy for genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C include the Japanese DRAGON study (treatment-naïve patients),[6] and the overseas PILLAR study (treatment-naïve patients)[7] and the ASPIRE trial (relapsers following previous treatment and non-responders to previous treatment).[8] Based on the results of these studies, the SMV dosage was set at 100 mg once daily for clinical phase III studies in Japan, and 150 mg once daily for overseas studies. Published Japanese clinical phase III studies comprise the CONCERTO-1 (treatment-naïve patients),[9] CONCERTO-2 (non-responders to previous treatment),[10] CONCERTO-3 (relapsers following previous treatment),[10] and CONCERTO-4 (treatment-naïve patients, non-responders, and relapsers) trials.[11] Published overseas clinical phase III studies comprise the QUEST-1 (treatment-naïve patients),[12] QUEST-2 (treatment-naïve patients),[13] and PROMISE (relapsers) studies.[14] The subjects for the Japanese clinical trials were patients with chronic hepatitis C (excluding cirrhosis) with genotype 1 and a high viral load (≥5.0 log IU/mL), aged 20–70 years (Table 1).

Table 1A. Characteristics of patients enrolled in CONCERTO-1/2/3
 Treatment-naïveNon-respondersRelapsers
SMV 12WPBOSMV 12WSMV 24WSMV 12W
(n = 123)(n = 60)(n = 53)(n = 53)(n = 49)
  1. * expressed as median (range).

male, %31.740.050.949.140.8
age *56 (23–69)54.5 (30–69)60 (30–70)60 (24–70)61 (22–70)
≥65, %17.916.726.422.624.5
BMI, kg/m2 *22.0 (16.9–32.9)22.5 (17.3–33.2)22.3 (16.8–29.5)21.9 (19.2–33.4)22.3 (17.9–32.2)
IL28B SNP (rs8099917), %     
TT61.77015.111.371.4
TG31.728.38386.828.6
GG1.61.71.91.90
HCV genotype 1b, %98.498.310094.398
HCV RNA at baseline, LogIU/mL *6.3 (4.5–7.2)6.4 (3.3–7.4)6.4 (4.6–7.3)6.4 (5.1–7.0)6.5 (5.0–7.0)
previous IFN Tx     
IFN mono  7.53.84.1
IFN+RBV  7.57.58.2
Peg-IFN mono  01.94.1
Peg-IFN+RBV  84.986.883.7
Table 1B. Characteristics of patients enrolled in CONCERTO-4
 Treatment-naïveNon-respondersRelapsers
SMV 12WSMV 12WSMV 12W, PR 48W
(n = 24)(n = 29)(n = 26)
  1. * expressed as median (range).

male, %33.355.250
age *60 (37–68)60 (38–70)53 (45–69)
≥65, %20.83115.4
BMI, kg/m2 *23.0 (18.1–30.2)22.5 (18.1–31.9)22.4 (16.9–34.3)
IL28B SNP (rs8099917), %   
TT66.789.77.7
TG33.310.380.8
GG0011.5
HCV genotype 1b, %10010096.2
HCV RNA at baseline, LogIU/mL *6.6 (5.4–7.0)6.6 (4.9–7.4)6.5 (5.1–7.4)
previous IFN Tx   
IFN mono 3.40
IFN+RBV 011.5
Peg-IFN mono 00
Peg-IFN+RBV 96.688.5
Treatment-naïve patients

The protocol for the Japanese CONCERTO-1 trial,[9] conducted with IFN-naïve subjects, administered SMV 100 mg once daily + Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV triple therapy for the first 12 weeks, then Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV dual therapy for 12 or 36 weeks according to the response-guided therapy (RGT). Using this RGT, subjects with HCV RNA < 1.2 log IU/mL or undetectable after 4 weeks' treatment, and undetectable after 12 weeks, were administered Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV for 12 weeks (total treatment duration 24 weeks), and all other subjects for 36 weeks (total treatment duration 48 weeks). As a result, 99% of subjects met the response-guided criteria, and underwent 24 weeks of treatment. The SVR24 rate was 89% (109/123) for the triple therapy group, significantly higher than that of 57% (34/60) in the control group (Fig. 1).

figure

Figure 1. Therapeutic results for SMV + Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV triple therapy for treatment-naïve patients (from CONCERTO-1 trial[9]). image, SMV + Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV; image, Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV.

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Peg-IFNα-2b was used in the CONCERTO-4 trial,[11] conducted with IFN-naïve subjects, the same response-guided criteria were set, all subjects met the criteria and underwent 24 weeks of treatment, yielding an SVR24 rate of 92% (22/24) (Fig. 2).

figure

Figure 2. Therapeutic results for SMV + Peg-IFNα-2b + RBV triple therapy for treatment-naïve patients, non-responders, and relapsers (from CONCERTO-4 trial[11]). image, treatment-naïve cases; image, relapsers; image, non-responders. Total treatment duration was 24W for treatment-naive and relapsers, and 48W for non-responders.

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In the overseas QUEST-1 study,[12] subjects were administered SMV 150 mg once daily + Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV triple therapy for the first 12 weeks, then response-guided criteria were set as for the CONCERTO-1 trial, with 85% of subjects meeting the criteria and undergoing 24 weeks of treatment. The overall SVR12 rate was 80%; 71% (105/147) in genotype 1a and 90% (105/117) in genotype 1b. The QUEST-2 study[13] set two groups, with either Peg-IFNα-2a or Peg-IFNα-2b, otherwise following the same protocol as the QUEST-1 study for treatment durations. As a result, 91% of subjects met the criteria and underwent 24 weeks of treatment. The overall SVR12 rate was 81%; 80% (86/107) and 82% (123/150) in genotype 1a and 1b, respectively. The SVR12 rate for Peg-IFNα-2a and Peg-IFNα-2b was 88% and 78%, respectively. In both these studies, triple therapy including SMV yielded significantly higher SVR rates than for 48 weeks of Peg-IFN + RBV dual therapy.

In this way, clinical trials of SMV-based triple therapy regimens were conducted using a response-guided protocol that set a treatment duration of 24 or 48 weeks, with almost all subjects meeting the criteria for the shorter duration. The SVR rate for IFN-naïve subjects in the Japanese studies was 89–92%, and in the overseas studies it was 82–90% for genotype 1b, significantly higher than the SVR rate in the control groups administered 48 weeks of Peg-IFN + RBV dual therapy.

Relapsers following previous treatment

The Japanese CONCERTO-3 trial,[10] conducted with subjects who relapsed following previous IFN therapy, was conducted using a similar protocol to the CONCERTO-1 trial.[9] All subjects met the response-guided criteria and underwent 24 weeks of treatment, yielding an SVR24 rate of 90% (44/49) (Fig. 3). Similarly, the CONCERTO-4 trial,[11] conducted with relapsers, followed a similar therapeutic protocol to the CONCERTO-3 trial,[10] using Peg-IFNα-2b. All subjects met the response-guided criteria and underwent 24 weeks of treatment, yielding an SVR24 rate of 97% (28/29) (Fig. 2).

figure

Figure 3. Therapeutic results for SMV + Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV triple therapy for non-responders and relapsers (from CONCERTO-2 and CONCERTO-3 trials[10]). image, relapsers; image, non-responders (SMV for 12 wks); image, non-responders (SMV for 24 wks).

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The overseas PROMISE study,[14] conducted with relapsers, was performed using a similar protocol to the QUEST-1 study. As a result, 93% of subjects met the response-guided criteria and underwent 24 weeks of treatment. The overall SVR12 rate was 79%; 70% (78/111) in genotype 1a and 86% (128/149) in genotype 1b.

In this way, in clinical trials of SMV-based triple therapy regimens with relapsers following previous IFN therapy, majority of subjects met the response-guided criteria and underwent 24 weeks of treatment. The SVR rate for the Japanese studies was 90–97%, and in the overseas studies it was 86% for genotype 1b, significantly higher than the SVR rate in the control groups administered 48 weeks of Peg-IFN + RBV dual therapy.

Non-responders to previous treatment

In the Japanese CONCERTO-2 trial,[10] non-responders to previous IFN therapy were administered SMV + Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV triple therapy for 12 weeks (SMV 12W group) or 24 weeks (SMV 24W group). The total treatment duration for both groups was set using response-guided criteria similar to those for the CONCERTO-1 trial,[9] with 96% and 98% of subjects, who completed 24 weeks of treatment respectively, meeting the criteria and finishing the treatment at 24 weeks. The SVR24 rate was 51% (27/53) for the SMV 12W group, and 36% (19/53) for the SMV 24W group (Fig. 3). In the CONCERTO-4 trial,[11] non-responders were administered SMV + Peg-IFNα-2b + RBV triple therapy for 12 weeks, followed by Peg-IFNα-2b + RBV dual therapy for 36 weeks, for a total treatment duration of 48 weeks. The SVR24 rate was 38% (10/26) (Fig. 2).

Although the Japanese CONCERTO-2[10] and CONCERTO-4[11] trials were conducted with non-responders, they did not conduct any further analyses subdividing non-responders into partial responders, with a decrease in the HCV RNA level by ≥2 log IU/mL at week 12 of the previous treatment, and null responders, with a decrease < 2 log IU/mL. On the other hand, the overseas phase II ASPIRE trial,[8] conducted with relapsers and non-responders, reported therapeutic results separately for partial responders and null responders. This trial assigned subjects to one of 3 groups, all with a total treatment period of 48 weeks. They were administered SMV + Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV triple therapy for 12 weeks or 24 weeks, followed by Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV dual therapy for the remaining time, or triple therapy for the entire 48 weeks. SMV was administered in a daily dosage of either 100 mg or 150 mg. The SVR rate for the SMV 12, 24 and 48 week groups was 70%, 66% and 61%, respectively, at the 100 mg dosage, and 67%, 72% and 80% at the 150 mg dosage, with no difference seen between groups due to treatment duration. The SVR rate in relapsers was 85% for both the 100 mg and 150 mg dosages. On the other hand, the SVR rate for partial responders and null responders was 57% and 46%, respectively, at the 100 mg dosage of SMV, and 75% and 51% at the 150 mg dosage. This indicates that within the non-responders, a higher SVR rate is achieved in partial responders than in null responders. In particular, if we confine the analysis to genotype 1b, common in Japanese patients, the SVR rate for partial responders and null responders was 68% and 56%, respectively, at the 100 mg dosage of SMV, and 88% and 58% at the 150 mg dosage. In genotype 1a, the SVR rate for partial/null responders was 56%/33% at 100 mg and 42%/33% at 150 mg.[8]

Table 2. Drugs contraindicated for co-administration with SMV (reproduced from[16])
Generic nameTrade name
EfavirenzStocrin
RifampicinRifadin
RifabutinMycobutin

Recommendations

  • The SVR rate in IFN-naïve subjects was significantly higher for SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy than for Peg-IFN + RBV dual therapy for 48 weeks.
  • A high SVR rate of 90–97% was achieved with SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy in relapsers following previous IFN therapy.
  • An SVR rate of 36–51% was achieved with SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy in non-responders to previous IFN therapy.
  • In an overseas trial, subanalysis of non-responders to previous IFN therapy showed a higher SVR rate in partial responders than in null responders, although there is no data available regarding Japanese subjects.

Adverse reactions

In the CONCERT-1 trial,[9] the treatment completion rate was 92.7%. Only 4.9% of subjects in the triple therapy group discontinued treatment due to adverse events, as against 8.3% of subjects in the Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV dual therapy group, with no significant difference between groups.

Elevated bilirubin levels were seen in 40.7% of subjects administered SMV, but these were mild, transient increases not associated with elevated AST or ALT levels. Bilirubin levels in grade 1 (1.1–1.5 mg/dL) were seen in 25.2%, grade 2 (1.6–2.5 mg/dL) in 14.6%, and grade 3 (2.6–5.0 mg/dL) in 0.8%, with no cases of grade 4 (> 5.0 mg/dL). Elevated bilirubin levels are reported to be caused by inhibition of hepatic transporter activity by SMV.[15]

The type and incidence of adverse reactions, including anemia, skin conditions, renal dysfunction, hyperuricemia, malaise, and gastrointestinal symptoms, were similar for SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy and for Peg-IFN + RBV dual therapy. The incidence and degree of anemia was similar for both treatment groups; for the SMV-based triple therapy group, the lowest hemoglobin level was ≥10.6 g/dL in 29.3% of subjects, grade 1 anemia (Hb 9.5–10.5 g/dL) in 41.5%, grade 2 anemia (8.0–9.4 g/dL) in 29.3%, and no cases of grade 3 anemia (<8.0 g/dL).

Skin conditions were reported in 57.7% of subjects, all grade 1 or 2, with similar incidences, degrees of severity, and discontinuation rates in the two treatment groups. No serious cutaneous reactions, such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) or drug-induced hypersensitivity syndrome (DIHS), were reported.

Recommendations

  • A transient, mild elevation in bilirubin levels may be seen in patients undergoing SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy, caused by inhibition of hepatic transporter activity.
  • The type and incidence of other adverse reactions are similar to those seen with Peg-IFN + RBV dual therapy, yielding high completion rates.

Drug interactions

Since SMV is mainly metabolized by CYP3A, co-administration with inhibitors or inducers of CYP3A may affect plasma levels of SMV. In particular, co-administration with strong inducers of CYP3A may enhance the metabolism and markedly lower plasma SMV levels, resulting in attenuating the therapeutic effects. As a result, co-administration of drugs listed in Table 1 is contraindicated.[16]

In addition, since SMV inhibits OATP1B1 and P-glycoprotein, co-administration with drugs transported through these channels may reduce plasma levels of those drugs. The package insert should be referred to before administrating SMV.

Recommendations

  • Since SMV is mainly metabolized by CYP3A and inhibits OATP1A1 and P-glycoprotein, co-administration of some drugs is contraindicated. The package insert should be referred to before administrating SMV.

Drug resistance

The CONCERTO-2 and CONCERTO-3 trials,[10] conducted with non-responders and relapsers, investigated gene mutations in the NS3 protease region in cases of treatment failure, including breakthrough, meeting the discontinuation criteria due to insufficient antiviral effect, HCV RNA positive at completion of treatment, and relapse following completion. Testing for genetic mutations was possible in 59 out of 61 cases of treatment failure, in 54 (92%) of whom mutations conferring SMV resistance were detected. Almost all of these were amino acid 168 substitutions (52/54), with 42 cases of substitution including D168V (35 single D168V substitutions, 7 mixed or multiple substitutions), and 10 single or mixed D168A/H/T/E/X substitutions. For the two cases with no D168 substitutions detected, a single Q80L substitution was seen in one, and mixed Q80K and R155K substitutions in the other. Genotype 1b was present in 97% of the subjects of these studies, and the overseas ASPIRE study also reported that D168V substitutions are responsible for almost all SMV resistance in genotype 1b, whereas R155K substitutions are mainly responsible for SMV resistance in genotype 1a.[17]

Overseas clinical trials have reported that the presence of Q80K polymorphism pretreatment in patients with genotype 1a may reduce the SVR rate.[8, 12, 13] As Q80K polymorphism is detected in 23–41% of patients with genotype 1a, this may be a predictive factor for therapeutic efficacy. Q80K polymorphism is rare in patients with genotype 1b.[8]

Recommendations

  • Resistant mutations are found in a high proportion of patients in whom SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy is ineffective. Almost all of these mutations were D168V substitutions in genotype 1b.
  • SVR rates may be reduced in patients with genotype 1a and Q80K polymorphism pretreatment. Q80K polymorphism is rare in patients with genotype 1b.

Treatment-naïve Patients

  1. Top of page
  2. Introduction
  3. Simeprevir (SMV)
  4. Treatment-naïve Patients
  5. Previously-treated Cases (Retreatment)
  6. Conflicts of interest
  7. References

A number of new agents are under development for the treatment of HCV genotype 1 and high viral load (≥5.0 log IU/mL using real-time PCR, HCV core antigen ≥300 fmol/L) infections. These include HCV selective antiviral agents (protease inhibitors, polymerase inhibitors, NS5A inhibitors), new IFN preparations, RBV prodrugs, and agents with immunostimulant effects. At present, however, what we have available for general clinical use are antiviral therapies based on IFN preparations, in other words Peg-IFN (IFN) ± RBV ± protease inhibitors (SMV, TVR). In 2011 TVR + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy became available for use in Japan. Use of this combination reduced the duration of treatment for 48 or 72 weeks to 24 weeks, and provided a marked improvement in therapeutic efficacy, albeit some problems with adverse reactions. In December 2013, national medical insurance coverage approved the use of SMV,[9-11] a second generation protease inhibitor, for the treatment of genotype 1 high viral load infections. The duration of treatment for SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy is 24 weeks, the same as for TVR-based triple therapy. However, once daily dosing for the former, as well as high SVR rates of 80–90% in Japanese clinical trials with treatment naïve subjects (DRAGON,[6] CONCERTO-1,[9] and CONCERTO-4[11]), and similar rates of adverse reactions to the control Peg-IFN + RBV dual therapy group, make SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy the present treatment of first choice.

There are no clear discontinuation criteria for SMV-based triple therapy, and very few patients in whom this regimen is contraindicated, so in general the discontinuation criteria for TVR-based triple therapy should be followed.

In some patients, however, in whom adverse reactions are a concern, and the risk of carcinogenesis is considered low, it may be possible to await the introduction of the new agents with more favorable safety profiles.

Predictors of therapeutic efficacy of SMV-based combination therapy

IL28B

In the Japanese CONCERTO −1 trials using SMV-based combination therapy, subanalysis according to IL28B alleles (rs8099917 SNP) yielded an SVR24 rate of 94% (77/82) for the TT allele, and 78% (32/41) for the TG/GG alleles.[9] This represents a relatively high SVR rate for the TG or GG minor alleles achieved with SMV-based combination therapy, unlike Peg-IFN + RBV dual therapy, whose therapeutic efficacy is strongly affected by IL28B polymorphism (Fig. 4). A similar trend was seen in the CONCERTO-4 trial, with an SVR24 rate of 100% (16/16) for the TT allele, and 75% (6/8) for the TG/GG alleles, although subject numbers were small.[11]

figure

Figure 4. Results in treatment-naïve patients using the SMV + Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV triple therapy regimen; influence of IL28B polymorphism and age (CONCERTO-1 trial[9]). image, SMV + Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV; image, Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV.

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In the overseas QUEST-1 and QUEST-2 trials using SMV-based combination therapy, SVR12 rates stratified for IL28B alleles (rs12979860 SNP) were 97% (72/77) and 96% (72/77) respectively for the CC allele, 76% (114/150) and 80% (114/142) for the CT allele, and 65% (24/37) and 58% (23/40) for the TT allele, showing a similar trend to the Japanese studies (Table 3).

Table 3. Overseas results with SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy; influence of IL28B polymorphism and age (SVR12, %) (QUEST-1,[12] QUEST-2[13] and PROMISE trials[14])
  IL28B SNPFibrosis (METAVIR)
CCCTTTF0-2F3F4
QUEST-1SMV+Peg-IFN+Rib977665837858
Peg-IFN+Rib784224   
QUEST-2SMV+Peg-IFN+Rib968058856765
Peg-IFN+Rib814119   
PROMISESMV+Peg-IFN+Rib897865827374
Peg-IFN+Rib533418   
Age and fibrosis

SVR24 rates stratified for age in the CONCERTO-1 trial were 87% (20/23) for subjects ≤ 45, 90% (70/78) for those aged 44–64, and 86% (19/22) for those ≥65. No clear differences were seen in SVR rates according to age for those ≤70 years old (Fig. 4). As for fibrosis, QUEST-1 and QUEST-2 examined the relationship between hepatic fibrosis and SVR12 rates, finding SVR12 rates of 83% and 85% respectively for F0-2, 78% and 67% for F3, and 58% and 65% for F4 (Table 3). These results suggest a correlation between the degree of hepatic fibrosis and the efficacy of SMV-based combination therapy. However, the classification F4 is not included in Japanese clinical trials, and there have been no reports of therapeutic results stratified for the degree of hepatic fibrosis.

Taken together, the results of Japanese and overseas clinical trials showed no clear age-related differences in therapeutic effect of SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy. Although IL28B SNPs and the degree of fibrosis may influence therapeutic efficacy, SVR rates of 60–80% were still achieved in patients with IL28B minor alleles and advanced fibrosis ≥ F3. Accordingly, at present we cannot say that age, IL28B SNPs or the degree of fibrosis exerts any great influence on the therapeutic efficacy of this treatment regimen.

Recommendations

  • SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy is at present the treatment of first choice in IFN-naïve patients.
  • IL28B polymorphism has little influence on the SVR rate in IFN-naïve patients undergoing SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy, with relatively high SVR rates achieved even in patients with the TG/GG minor alleles.
  • In Japanese clinical trials conducted with subjects aged ≤ 70, no clear correlation could be identified between age and SVR rates.
  • Although Japanese data is lacking, the results of overseas clinical trials indicate that advanced hepatic fibrosis may influence SVR rates.
  • From the above, in general, if treatment is likely to be tolerated, SMV-based triple therapy is indicated in all patients who meet the criteria for antiviral therapy (ALT > 30 U/L or platelet count <150 000/μL), irrespective of IL28B SNP status.
  • In some patients, however, in whom adverse reactions are a concern, and the risk of carcinogenesis is considered low, it may be possible to await the introduction of the new agents with more favorable safety profiles.

Selection of antiviral therapy in treatment-naïve patients (Fig. 5)

figure

Figure 5. Treatment flow chart for treatment-naïve patients.

Use IL28B testing as a reference if available.

Follow therapy protocol for treatment-naïve patients if previous therapy was Peg-IFN (IFN) monotherapy or details of previous therapy with Peg-IFN (IFN) and RBV are unknown.

Consider IFNβ + RBV combination if depressive symptoms present.

*1 TVR + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy is another option (TVR should be commenced at a reduced dosage of 1500 mg/day in the elderly).

*2 Protective therapy or low dose Peg-IFN(IFN) therapy if abnormal ALT levels.

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Elderly patients

In this patient group at high risk of hepatocellular carcinogenesis, the best possible antiviral therapy should be promptly commenced. However, the possibility of adverse reactions, and the possibility that viral eradication may not be achieved, should be thoroughly explained to the patient in advance. Although the introduction of TVR + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy improved SVR rates in comparison to Peg-IFN + RBV dual therapy,[1] postmarketing surveys revealed serious adverse reactions in approximately 40% of elderly patients. Accordingly, it is recommended that TVR therapy should be commenced at a reduced dosage of 1500 mg/day,[18] although great caution is still required in its use in this age group. On the other hand, clinical trials of SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy for treatment-naïve patients have reported an SVR rate of 86% (19/22) in elderly patients aged ≥ 65 (and ≤70), indicating a therapeutic efficacy similar to that seen in non-elderly patients (Fig. 4). Furthermore, very little difference is seen between SMV-based triple therapy and Peg-IFN + RBV dual therapy in terms of safety. Accordingly, SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy should be commenced as soon as possible if treatment is likely to be tolerated.

If antiviral therapy is not introduced due to concerns about tolerability, and ALT levels are abnormal, protective therapy (stronger neo-minophagen C; SNMC and/or ursodeoxycholic acid; UDCA) should be commenced.[1] Long-term low dose Peg-IFN (IFN) therapy is another option.[1]

Recommendations

  • Elderly patients are at high risk of hepatocellular carcinogenesis, and should commence antiviral therapy promptly.
  • SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy is the antiviral treatment of first choice in treatment-naïve elderly patients.
  • If antiviral therapy is not introduced and ALT levels are abnormal, protective therapy (SNMC, UDCA) should be commenced. Long-term low dose Peg-IFN (IFN) therapy is another option.
Non-elderly patients

Although the risk of hepatocellular carcinogenesis is relatively low in non-elderly patients, the introduction of antiviral therapy is inevitably necessary in cases of advanced hepatic fibrosis, as in elderly patients. In general, SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy should be administered to patients with advanced fibrosis. Also consider IFNβ + RBV combination therapy in patients with depressive symptoms.[1] The risk of carcinogenesis is considered lower in patients with mild fibrosis, so it may be reasonable to await the advent of newer agents with fewer adverse reactions. Determination of IL28B SNP status may be of benefit when the decision whether to commence treatment is a difficult one. However, as mentioned above, clinical trials of SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy in treatment-naïve subjects reported SVR rates of approximately 80% in patients with IL28B minor alleles (Fig. 4). SMV-based triple therapy should therefore be considered in all patients who meet the criteria for antiviral therapy (ALT > 30 U/L or platelet count < 150 000/μL)[1] if treatment is likely to be tolerated, irrespective of IL28B SNP status. If antiviral therapy is not introduced, and ALT levels are abnormal, protective therapy should be commenced.[1]

Recommendations

  • Although the risk of hepatocellular carcinogenesis is relatively low in non-elderly patients, the introduction of antiviral therapy is inevitably necessary in cases of advanced hepatic fibrosis, as in elderly patients. Waiting for advent of newer agents with fewer adverse reactions is an option in patients with mild fibrosis.
  • In general, SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy should be administered to treatment-naïve non-elderly patients with advanced fibrosis.
  • Although treatment may be delayed in non-elderly patients with mild fibrosis, SMV-based triple therapy should be considered in all patients who meet the criteria for antiviral therapy (ALT > 30 U/L or platelet count < 150 000/μL) if treatment is likely to be tolerated. If antiviral therapy is not introduced, and ALT levels are abnormal, protective therapy should be commenced.

Previously-treated Cases (Retreatment)

  1. Top of page
  2. Introduction
  3. Simeprevir (SMV)
  4. Treatment-naïve Patients
  5. Previously-treated Cases (Retreatment)
  6. Conflicts of interest
  7. References

Predictors of therapeutic efficacy of SMV-based combination therapy

Several lines of clinical studies indicate that, in retreatment using SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV combination therapy, response to the previous treatment is the best indicator of the efficacy of retreatment when IFN/Peg-IFN + RBV combination therapy is ineffective.[10, 11, 17] In the overseas phase II trial (ASPIRE trial), administering SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy to previously treated subjects, Peg-IFN + RBV combination therapy was administered for 48 weeks, in combination with SMV 100 mg or 150 mg/day for the first 12 or 24 weeks, or the entire 48 weeks. As described above, SVR rates for the different SMV dosages (100/150 mg/day) were 85%/85% in relapsers, 57%/75% in partial responders, and 46%/51% in null responders. No differences were seen in SVR rates according to dosage, whereas the response to previous therapy did influence SVR rates, with a greater therapeutic effect seen in partial responders than in null responders.[17] Similarly, in Japanese phase III trials (CONCERTO-2/3[10]) administering SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy to previously treated subjects, SVR rates in relapsers and non-responders were 90% (44/49) and 51% (27/53), respectively (Fig. 3). In the CONCERTO-4[11] using Peg-IFNα-2b, the SVR rate was 97% (28/29) in relapsers, and 38% (10/26) in non-responders, a similar result to the CONCERTO-2/3[10] trials using Peg-IFNα-2a (Fig. 2).

Examination of the therapeutic efficacy of SMV-based combination therapy in relapsers, stratified for IL28B SNP status, revealed SVR24 rates of 91% (32/35) for the TT allele, and 86% (12/14) for the TG/GG alleles in the CONCERTO-3 trial (Fig. 6), and 96% (25/26) for the TT allele, and 100% (3/3) for the TG/GG alleles in the CONCERTO-4 trial. High SVR rates were achieved in relapsers in both studies, irrespective of IL28B SNP status. On the other hand, in the CONCERTO-2 trial,[10] conducted with non-responders, SVR24 rates stratified for IL28B SNP status were 50% (7/14) for the TT allele, and 42% (39/92) for the TG/GG alleles (Fig. 6), again showing no difference in SVR rates associated with IL28B polymorphism.

figure

Figure 6. Results of treatment using SMV + Peg-IFNα-2a + RBV triple therapy in relapsers and non-responders depending on IL28B status (CONCERTO-2/3 trial[10]). image, TT; image, TG/GG.

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In the overseas PROMISE trial,[14] conducted with relapsers, SVR12 rates stratified for IL28B alleles (rs12979860 SNP) were 89% (55/62) for the CC allele, 78% (131/167) for the CT allele, and 65% (20/31) for the TT allele. Examination of the relationship between hepatic fibrosis and SVR12 rates yielded SVR12 rates of 82% for F0-2, 73% for F3, and 74% for F4 (Table 3). These results demonstrated that, unlike treatment-naïve cases, high SVR rates can be achieved irrespective of the degree of hepatic fibrosis in relapsers. However, the classification F4 is not included in Japanese clinical trials, and there have been no reports of therapeutic results stratified for the degree of hepatic fibrosis.

In this way, the response to previous therapy is at present the most important predictive factor for SVR rates achieved by SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy.

There is presently no evidence available concerning the therapeutic efficacy of SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy in non-responders to previous TVR + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy. However, retreatment with SMV-based therapy, with particular caution regarding adverse reactions, is an option in patients previously administered TVR-based therapy who were unable to tolerate adequate dosages of one or more agents due to adverse reactions.

When previously treated patients undergo retreatment with a combination including RBV, if RBV was not included in the previous IFN or Peg-IFN monotherapy regimen, the response to the earlier therapy is not a strong predictive factor for the efficacy of further treatment, so in general follow the treatment protocol for treatment-naïve patients. If the HCV RNA decrease at week 12 of the previous treatment is unknown, but it is clear that HCV RNA did not become negative, follow the retreatment protocol for null responders.

Recommendations

  • The response to previous therapy is the best indicator for the response to retreatment in patients who were non-responders to previous IFN/Peg-IFN + RBV combination therapy. The relationship between IL28B SNPs and therapeutic efficacy is unclear at present.
  • Retreatment with RBV combination therapy in patients previously administered IFN or Peg-IFN monotherapy should in general follow the treatment protocol for treatment-naïve cases. If the HCV RNA decrease at week 12 of the previous treatment is unknown, but it is clear that HCV RNA did not become negative, follow the null response retreatment protocol.
  • There is presently no evidence available concerning the therapeutic efficacy of SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy in non-responders to previous TVR + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy.

Selection of antiviral therapy in previously-treated patients (retreatment) (Fig. 7, 7A, 7B)

figure

Figure 7. Treatment flow chart for previously-treated patients (retreatment). A. Relapsers. B. Non-responders.

“Previously-treated” refers to previous treatment with Peg-IFN(IFN)/RBV combination therapy.

Consider IFNβ + RBV combination if depressive symptoms present. Follow the null response retreatment protocol in non-responders if the quantitative decrease in HCV RNA at week 12 of the previous treatment is unknown.

*1 TVR + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy is another option (TVR should be commenced at a reduced dosage of 1500 mg/day in the elderly).

*2 Protective therapy or low dose Peg-IFN/IFN therapy if abnormal ALT levels.

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Elderly patients

SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy should be commenced promptly if treatment is likely to be tolerated. In particular, relapsers and partial responders are favorable indications. As for null responders, in the overseas clinical trial (ASPIRE), SVR rates of approximately 50% were achieved when SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV combination therapy administered to null responders to previous treatment. Introduction of this regimen is therefore recommended to null responders, although it may be an option to await the advent of newer agents with fewer adverse reactions if problems with tolerability are anticipated. TVR + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy is another option, although it is recommended that TVR therapy should be commenced at a reduced dosage of 1500 mg/day as in treatment-naïve cases, and great caution is still required in its use.

The risk of hepatocellular carcinogenesis is high in elderly patients, and when viral eradication cannot be achieved protective therapies (SNMC, UDCA) should be administered with the aims of biochemical improvement and inhibiting hepatocellular carcinogenesis.[1] Long-term low dose Peg-IFN (IFN) therapy is another option.[1]

Recommendations

  • In retreatment of elderly patients, if treatment is likely to be tolerated, SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy should be administered to relapsers and partial responders.
  • SVR rates of approximately 50% are achieved with SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV combination therapy in null responders to previous treatment, and introduction of this regimen is therefore recommended to null responders as well. If problems with tolerability are anticipated, it may be an option to await the advent of newer agents with fewer adverse reactions.
  • When viral therapy is not administered, protective therapies should be administered to patients with abnormal ALT levels. Long-term low dose Peg-IFN (IFN) therapy is another option.
Non-elderly patients

As with elderly patients, as a general rule non-elderly patients with advanced fibrosis and associated high risk of hepatocellular carcinogenesis should be administered SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV combination therapy. Even in patients with mild fibrosis and a lower risk of carcinogenesis, a high SVR rate of approximately 90% is achieved with SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV combination therapy in relapsers and partial responders. Therefore, if treatment is likely to be tolerated, SMV-based triple therapy should be administered to this patient group.

On the other hand, for non-elderly null responders with mild fibrosis, if adverse reactions are a concern, it may be reasonable to await the advent of newer agents with fewer adverse reactions. When there are no problems with tolerability, SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV combination therapy can be commenced in patients who meet the therapeutic indications for antiviral therapy (ALT > 30 U/L or platelet count < 150 000/μL).

TVR + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy is an alternative option in cases with mild fibrosis, where safety is relatively guaranteed.

Recommendations

  • In general, SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy should be administered for retreatment of non-elderly patients with advanced fibrosis, as for elderly patients.
  • Even in patients with mild fibrosis, a high SVR rate of approximately 90% is achieved with SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV combination therapy in relapsers and partial responders. If treatment is likely to be tolerated, SMV-based triple therapy should be therefore administered to this patient group.
  • On the other hand, for non-elderly null responders with mild fibrosis, if adverse reactions are a concern, it may be reasonable to await the advent of newer agents with fewer adverse reactions. When there are no problems with tolerability, SMV + Peg-IFN + RBV combination therapy can be commenced in patients who meet the therapeutic indications for antiviral therapy (ALT > 30 U/L or platelet count < 150 000/μL).
  • In non-responders (partial and null responders), TVR + Peg-IFN + RBV triple therapy is an alternative option in cases with mild fibrosis, if treatment is likely to be tolerated.

Conflicts of interest

  1. Top of page
  2. Introduction
  3. Simeprevir (SMV)
  4. Treatment-naïve Patients
  5. Previously-treated Cases (Retreatment)
  6. Conflicts of interest
  7. References

The members of Drafting Committee for Hepatitis Management Guidelines have received royalty from SRL, lecture fees from Ajinomoto Pharmaceuticals, MSD, Daiichi-Sankyo, Dainippon-Sumitomo Pharma, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, Chugai Pharmaceutical, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, and research support from Eisai, MSD, Kan Research Institute, Chugai Pharmaceutical, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, Dainippon-Sumitomo Pharma, Toray, Minophagen Pharmaceutical.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Introduction
  3. Simeprevir (SMV)
  4. Treatment-naïve Patients
  5. Previously-treated Cases (Retreatment)
  6. Conflicts of interest
  7. References
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