Background : Long-term treatment with lamivudine is required to control viral replication in patients with hepatitis B e antigen-negative chronic hepatitis B, but is associated with a high rate of viral resistance. The role of adefovir dipivoxil in these patients has not been definitively evaluated.

Aim : To address the role of adefovir in the management of patients with lamivudine-resistant hepatitis B e antigen-negative chronic hepatitis B.

Methods : Patients were assigned to receive adefovir 10 mg once daily plus ongoing lamivudine 100 mg once daily for 52 weeks. The primary end point was reduction in serum hepatitis B virus DNA level (hepatitis B virus DNA response). Secondary end points included the proportion of patients with undetectable hepatitis B virus DNA at week 52 (complete virological response) and the percentage of patients with normalization of alanine transferase level at week 52 (biochemical response).

Results : A total of 49 consecutive patients were enrolled in this study. After 52 weeks of treatment, all patients had an hepatitis B virus DNA response and 57.1% had complete virological response. Biochemical response occurred in 75.6% of patients.

Conclusions : Administration of adefovir in patients with lamivudine-resistant chronic hepatitis B results in significant suppression of viral replication. Nevertheless, continuous therapy will probably be needed in order to maintain remission in these patients.