Standard doses of pegylated interferon alfa-2a and alfa-2b, administered with ribavirin, were similarly effective in patients with chronic hepatitis C genotype 1 in a recent study.
Researchers performed meta-analysis of seven studies evaluating the efficacy of peginterferon-alfa-2a (Peg-IFN a-2a) and 2b (Peg-IFN a-2b) in 3,026 patients with chronic hepatitis C genotype 1. Five prospective randomized trials and one prospective and one retrospective nonrandomized trial were included. All participants were treatment-naive and anti-HIV-negative.
Study quality was measured according to the Chalmers and Jadad scales. Scores on the Chalmers scale ranged from 0.2 to 0.6 (mean of 0.43) overall, from 0.11 to 0.58 (mean 0.36) for the protocol, and from 0.23 to 0.67 (mean 0.53) for data analysis and presentation. On the six-point (0-5) Jadad scale, two studies scored 0, two scored 1 and three scored 3.
Rapid virological response (RVR) was evaluated in four studies in 2,729 patients, and occurred at similar rates among patients taking alfa-2a and 2b (RR=1.05; 95% CI, 0.87-1.27). Sustained virological response (SVR) rates, measured in 2,646 patients across six studies, also were similar for the treatments (RR=1.08; 95% CI, 0.99-1.18).
Early complete virological response (EVR) and end-of-treatment response (ETR) were assessed in five studies each, in 2,766 and 2,460 patients, respectively. EVR and ETR were more common among alfa-2a recipients (RR=1.12, 1.03-1.22 for EVR; RR=1.22, 1.14-1.31 for ETR).
Sensitivity analysis excluding nonrandomized and poor-quality studies did not significantly impact results.
“The data show that there is no difference between the two treatments in the achievement of RVR and SVR; the higher rates of EVR and ETR in the patients treated with Peg-IFN a-2a are clearly of lesser clinical impact,” the researchers wrote. “The datum on SVR may be considered the most important result from this meta-analysis. … Peg-IFN a-2a and Peg-IFN a-2b, both in combination with ribavirin … can be used indifferently for patients with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C who are anti-HIV-negative and naïve to antiviral treatment.”