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Goals: To determine the efficacy and safety of combination therapy in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

Background: There is little data on the treatment of ESRD patients with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. We designed a pilot study to determine the initial and 12-week posttreatment viral response.

Study: A nonrandomized, prospective observational study of adjusted-dose combination therapy. Twenty patients were enrolled and began pegylated interferon at 135 [mu]g/wk SC, and 4 weeks later ribavirin was started at 200 mg PO weekly, increasing gradually to 3 times a week for a total of 48 weeks.

Results: Twenty patients: M:F 18:2; mean age 52.4 years; genotype 1: 18, non-genotype 1: 2. Of the 20 patients, 5 withdrew before starting treatment. Of the 11 patients who reached 3 months, 6 had early virologic response, defined as at least a 2-log drop in their HCV count (54.5%). Of the 5 patients who were treated for 1-year, only 1 patient had a response 12 weeks after treatment. Side effects included 4 cases of anemia and 1 patient with headache.

Conclusions: The initial response rate in individuals taking 3 months of treatment in our study is comparable with studies in non-ESRD patients with no serious adverse side effects. However, the sustained posttreatment rate was low. This demonstrates that combination therapy is a safe therapeutic option in the ESRD population with HCV infection which needs further testing to determine if increasing the length of treatment and/or the dose of ribavirin will affect posttreatment rates.

(C) 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.