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A European research group has tried to answer a complex question: how long should patients with chronic hepatitis B infection receive therapy with interferon alfa (INF-α)?
In a study in last month's Hepatology, the researchers reported that doubling the treatment time with INF-α from 16 to 32 weeks produces a stronger antiviral response in some patients. The researchers, from 16 hepatologic centers throughout Europe, initially enrolled 162 patients with chronic hepatitis B in the study. After 16 weeks of standard therapy with INF-α, only 17% were hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) negative. Next, the researchers randomized 118 patients who were still HBeAg positive: 57 received no further INF-α treatment and 61 received an additional 16 weeks of therapy.
Voelker R. More Effective HBV Therapy. JAMA. 1999;282(6):519. doi:10.1001/jama.282.6.519-JWM90006-3-1