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The aim of the study was to evaluate the effects of epoetin-beta on anemia and sustained viral response in patients with chronic hepatitis C receiving treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Forty-two Caucasian patients with chronic hepatitis C infection, treated with pegylated interferon [alpha]-2a or [alpha]-2b plus ribavirin, who experienced at least a 2 log decline in HCV-RNA in the first month of therapy and a >=2.5 g/dl hemoglobin drop from baseline, were recruited. They were divided into two groups: 22 patients received epoetin-beta 30,000 U administered s.c. q.w. (group A) and 20 patients received a reduced ribavirin dose of 600 mg daily (group B). The end-of-treatment response was 95.4% (21/22) in group A and 80% (16/20) (P = 0.2) in group B. Sustained viral response in group A was 81.8% (18/22), statistically higher than in group B (45%, 9/20) (P = 0.03). Mean corpuscular volume of erythrocytes was statistically lower in group A than in group B 4 weeks after starting epoetin-beta or reduced ribavirin dose (P < 0.001), end-of-treatment (P < 0.001) and after 6 months follow-up (P < 0.001). A negative correlation between the levels of ferritin serum was found in group A at the baseline and mean corpuscular volume value after 1 month of combination antiviral therapy (r = -0.45; P = 0.35), 4 weeks after starting epoetin-beta (r = -0.43; P = 0.04) and after 6 months follow-up (r = -0.45; P = 0.03). Administration of epoetin-beta increases sustained viral response rates among patients developing anemia, because the standard dose of ribavirin is maintained, thereby reducing the side-effects of antiviral treatment. J. Med. Virol. 82:49-56, 2010. (C) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.