NICE approves pegylated interferon plus ribavirin in UK

Britain’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued guidance on the use of interferon alpha, peginterferon alfa – a newer, longer-acting version of interferon alfa, which doesn’t need to be taken as often – and ribavirin for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C within the National Health Service in England and Wales.

NICE has made the following recommendations:

  • Combination therapy with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin should be used to treat people aged 18 years or older who have moderate to severe chronic hepatitis C if they:
    – have not been treated before with either interferon alfa or peginterferon alfa, and/or
    – have been treated before with interferon alfa but not with peginterferon alfa, and/or
    – have been treated with peginterferon alfa monotherapy but it did not work, or the virus came back after treatment
  • The length of the treatment depends on the HCV genotype and how well a person initially responds to the drugs.
  • People who are currently being treated with interferon alfa may be switched to peginterferon alfa.
  • People who cannot take ribavirin, or have bad side effects from it, should be treated with peginterferon alfa monotherapy.
  • People who are likely to have complications from the procedure do not need to have a liver biopsy to find out how extensive their liver damage is before treatment is started.

Source: NICE press release. PDF file of guidelines:

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