Background & Aims: The aim of this study was to compare interferon (IFN)-ribavirin combination therapy with IFN monotherapy in chronic hepatitis C with particular focus on its efficacy in cirrhosis.
Methods: A multivariate analysis of individual patient data of all randomized controlled trials using an IFN-ribavirin arm, reported between 1991 and March 1998, was performed. Centers included 1 Asian and 5 European university-based referral centers for liver disease. A total of 197 patients with chronic hepatitis C received IFN-α (3 MU three times weekly) and ribavirin (1-1.2 g daily) for 6 months, and 147 patients received IFN-α (3 MU three times weekly) for 6 months. Patients were characterized according to previous IFN therapy, presence of cirrhosis, and genotype 1. Efficacy of therapy was evaluated by assessing the sustained response rate by logistic regression analysis.
Results: Patients without cirrhosis treated with IFN-ribavirin had a significantly higher sustained response rate than those treated with IFN, approximately 3-fold for previously untreated patients (IFN-ribavirin: genotype 1, 33%; genotype 2/3, 65%; IFN: genotype 1, 8%; genotype 2/3, 24%). In cirrhosis, sustained response rates with IFN-ribavirin (previously untreated: genotype 1, 7%; genotype 2/3, 24%) were also significantly higher than those with IFN (previously untreated: genotype 1, 1%; genotype 2/3, 5%). Clinical relevant superiority of combination therapy over IFN monotherapy was also observed for relapse; the same trend was observed for nonresponders. Tolerance for IFN-ribavirin was similar for patients with or without cirrhosis.
Conclusions: Combination with ribavirin significantly enhances the sustained response rate of IFN therapy in major patient types (cirrhosis, genotype 1) with chronic hepatitis C. Thus, IFN-ribavirin combination is likely to become the antiviral therapy of choice for cirrhosis caused by hepatitis C.,
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Schalm, S., Weiland, O., Hansen, B., Milella, M., Lai, M., Hollander, A., … van Vliet, C. (1999). Interferon-ribavirin for chronic hepatitis C with and without cirrhosis: Analysis of individual patient data of six controlled trials. Gastroenterology, 117(2), 408–413. doi:10.1053/gast.1999.0029900408