Background & Aims: Standard of care (SOC) treatment for chronic hepatitis C (CHC) involves weekly pegylated (PEG) interferon plus weight-based ribavirin with resultant sustained virologic response (SVR) rates at or near 50% for genotypes 1 and 4 virus. Induction therapy with higher doses of PEG interferon may improve first-phase viral kinetics and thus improve the overall SVR in genotypes 1 and 4 patients. Methods: This multicenter, randomized, open-label trial enrolled treatment-naive genotypes 1- and 4-infected CHC patients to either initial induction therapy versus SOC. The induction group received PEG interferon alfa-2b 3.0 mcg/kg/wk for 12 weeks followed by PEG interferon alfa-2b 1.5 mcg/kg/wk for 36 weeks and 13 ± 2 mg/kg ribavirin daily for 48 weeks. SOC patients received PEG interferon alfa-2b 1.5 mcg/kg weekly for 48 weeks and 13 ± 2 mg/kg ribavirin daily for 48 weeks. The primary end point was SVR. Results: There were 610 patients enrolled throughout the United States. Complete early virologic response was 62.6% versus 57.7% in induction versus SOC (NS). Overall SVR was 32% in induction versus 29% in SOC group (NS). Dose reduction of either PEG interferon (24.1% vs 23.8%) or ribavirin (26.8% vs 25.1%) was similar between the 2 groups. There was a trend toward a significant difference when comparing the SVR in induction therapy in patients weighing more than 85 kg versus those receiving SOC (38% vs 28%; P = .08). Conclusions: Induction therapy does not enhance complete early virologic response or SVR rates in a predominantly genotype 1 CHC population compared with SOC therapy.
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