Intended for healthcare professionals


Treatment of hepatitis C infection

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 14 August 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:450

Review underplayed important public health issues

  1. Kosh Agarwal, research registrar,
  2. David D E Jones, MRC clinician scientist
  1. Centre for Liver Research, The Medical School, University of Newcastle, Newcastle NE1 7RU
  2. Department of Gastroenterology, Guy's Campus, GKT Medical School, London SE1 9RT

    EDITOR—We were disappointed that McCarthy and Wilkinson's review of recent advances in hepatology underplayed important public health issues and treatment options surrounding hepatitis C virus.1 In Western Europe about 5 million people are chronic carriers of hepatitis C virus, and in industrialised countries the virus accounts for 40% of cases of end stage cirrhosis and 30% of liver transplants.2 Hepatitis C is thus an important health problem.

    Recent data confirm that combination antiviral treatment with ribavirin and interferon is better than interferon alone, with a 38-43% sustained response rate (polymerase chain reaction negative) with 12 months of combination treatment compared with 13-19% with interferon alone.3 4 Although ribavirin has been supplied for use only in trials in the United Kingdom, it is imminently to be licensed for patients who relapse after interferon …

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