Adolescents and adults with inherited disorders of coagulation have one of the highest prevalence rates of hepatitis C among known risk groups. Few data are available on the use of combination therapy with interferon and ribavirin in this population. Patients 13 years of age and older who were positive for hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA by polymerase chain reaction and negative for human immunodeficiency virus were randomized to receive interferon alfa-2b (3 million units 3 times a week) plus ribavirin (1,000 mg/day) or interferon alfa-2b alone for 48 weeks with 24 weeks of posttreatment follow-up. Patients started on interferon alone who remained positive for HCV RNA at week 12 crossed over to treatment with interferon plus ribavirin. A total of 113 patients were treated. Thirty-seven patients were younger than 18 years. At the end of treatment, 18 of 56 (32%) treated with interferon plus ribavirin and 6 of 57 (11%) treated with interferon alone were negative for HCV RNA (P = .005). Sustained virologic response in the combination arm was 29% (16 of 56) compared with 7% (4 of 57) for those started on interferon alone (P = .027). Among adolescents younger than 18 years who were treated with combination therapy, 10 of 17 (59%) had sustained response compared with 6 of 39 (15%) of adult patients on the same regimen (P = .001). In conclusion, in this U.S. multicenter, randomized trial of therapy for HCV in patients with inherited bleeding disorders, sustained virologic response rate was significantly improved for patients treated with interferon and ribavirin compared with those started on interferon alone. Adolescents treated with combination therapy had a significantly higher sustained response than adults did on the same regimen.
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