Background/Aims: Interferon beta (IFN-β) has been shown to have antiviral activity, and thus could be useful in treating viral infections. Therefore, we compared the efficacy and safety of recombinant IFN-/3 (IFN-/3-1a) plus oral ribavirin versus interferon alpha (IFN-a) plus ribavirin therapy for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C (HCV). Methods: Twenty treatment-naive patients were randomized into two equal-sized treatment groups. Both IFN-/3-1a (44g) and IFN-a (3 MIU) were given subcutaneously three times a week, while ribavirin was given orally at 1,000-1,200 mg/day. Patients were treated for 24 weeks and followed for an additional 24 weeks. Results: After 24 weeks of treatment, six (60%) and four patients (40%) in the IFN-/3-1a group and IFN-a groups, respectively, achieved viral clearance. The sustained virological response (SVR) at the end of the observation period was similar in both groups (40%). However, the baseline viral load was significantly higher (p=0.034) in the IFN-/3-1a group than in the IFN-a group, and there were more HCV genotype 1 patients in the IFN-/3-1a group (eight versus seven). The IFN-/3-1a group was associated with similar adverse events in terms of frequency and severity. Conclusions: The SVR rate and safety profile were similar for the combination of IFN-/3-1a and ribavirin and that of IFN-α and ribavirin. (Gut and Liver 2009;3:20-25).
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