Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) associated liver disease is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in haemophilia. Recombinant interferon alfa-2b was used in a randomised controlled liver biopsy trial to treat haemophiliacs with chronic HCV. All 18 patients entered had antibodies to HCV. During the first year of the study, 10 patients were randomised on the basis of histology to receive interferon alfa-2b, 3 million units subcutaneously, thrice weekly and eight to receive no treatment (control group). After 12 months, all patients had a second liver biopsy and the control group patients were offered interferon at the same dosage but for only six months. The alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity had returned to normal in four of 10 patients treated for one year and five of six patients treated for six months, compared with none of the eight patients in the control group (p < 0.01). Although the histological scores of the two groups were similar at entry into the study, after one year the biopsy specimens in the treated group showed significant improvement compared with controls (p < 0.01). It is concluded that interferon alfa-2b is effective in returning ALT values to normal and improving liver histology in at least 50% of patients treated.
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