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Keywords:

  • difficult-to-treat;
  • genotype 1;
  • hepatitis C;
  • pegylated interferon;
  • sustained virological response

Summary.  Beside substantial progress in treatment of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) particular patients (genotype 1/4, high viral load, previous nonresponse, cirrhosis) remain difficult to treat. The aim of our pilot randomized study was to compare efficacy and tolerability of standard doses of Peginterferon alpha-2b + ribavirin with higher doses of Peginterferon alpha-2b administered twice weekly + ribavirin. Sixty-five outpatients with CHC were subsequently enrolled. Group A (n = 22) received recommended doses of Peginterferon alpha-2b and group B (n = 43), received high doses twice weekly. Groups were comparable for baseline characteristics. All genotype 1/4 patients had high baseline viraemia. Sustained virological response (SVR) was significantly higher in group B among naïve patients (72%vs 25%, P = 0.024). A significantly higher rate of SVR was observed in group B both considering only genotype 1/4 patients, (46%vs 13%, P = 0.03) and grouping together genotype 1/4 naive and relapsers (57%vs 11%, P = 0.039). Discontinuation rate was 32% (7 of 22) in group A and 19% (8 of 43) in group B. Our response rates are the highest reported for genotype 1/4 with high viraemia. Our pilot study supports the need of randomized studies to evaluate both viral kinetics and efficacy of high dose and twice weekly administration of Peginterferon alpha-2b in genotype 1/4 patients with high viraemia who may need personalized treatment schedules.