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Response to treatment of hepatitis C in individuals with a recent history of intravenous drug abuse
  Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Oct;98(10):2281-8.
Van Thiel DH, Anantharaju A, Creech S.
Department of Medicine, Loyola University Medical Center, Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Illinois, USA
The aim of this study was to determine the rate of sustained response (SR) to high-dose daily interferon (IFN) therapy in prior drug abusers with chronic hepatitis C. This was a retrospective matched cohort study conducted at a tertiary care university hospital in a large urban area.
The 120 individuals in each cohort were treated by the same physicians at the same facility, using the same treatment protocol and management procedures. Each patient received 5 million units of IFN daily for at least 1 yr and usually longer.
Both groups achieved a similar rate of SR (no i.v. drug abuse, 37% vs i.v. drug abuse, 33%). The end of treatment (ET) response rate was unexpectedly higher in the drug-abusing population as compared to that non-drug-abusing control subjects but fell during the follow-up period to achieve an SR similar to that of the non-drug-abusing controls.
The side effects of IFN therapy were no greater in the prior drug abusing population than in the controls, although many in the drug-abusing group increased their dose of methadone to counteract IFN side effects.
The SR rate achieved by intravenous drug abusers to high-dose, daily IFN is similar to that in a non-drug-abusing HCV positive population. Recent use of illicit drugs within a 6-month period of starting IFN therapy or continued methadone use during treatment does not seem to impair the response to IFN when the results are compared with those of a matched cohort of non-drug-abusing controls.
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