Hepatitis C Treatment
The standard of care for hepatitis C treatment is the use of combination medication therapy. Combination therapy uses more than one medication to try to rid the body of the infection.
The goal of hepatitis C treatment is to completely clear the body of the hepatitis C virus. Clearing the virus can ultimately help reduce liver swelling, stop the scarring, and possibly reverse some of the liver damage. It may also reduce the long-term risk of liver cancer.
Most people are treated with the combination of PegIntron and ribavirin, as this combination is more effective than using PegIntron alone. The combination therapy of PegIntron with ribavirin is approved for use in individuals age three and older. However, when using PegIntron alone without the ribavirin, it is approved for use in adults age 18 and older who have not previously been treated with interferon.
Additionally, hepatitis C protease inhibitors (which are a relatively new drug type) are now available for hepatitis C treatment. PegIntron is approved to be used together with ribavirin and one of these drugs (Incivek or Victrelis). This is the preferred regimen for adults with hepatitis C genotype 1.
How Does It Work?PegIntron is a manufactured version of interferon and is almost identical to a naturally occurring human interferon. Interferons are naturally occurring proteins or glycoproteins (proteins attached to carbohydrates). In humans, interferons are produced by cells in response to certain situations (such as viral infections) and often play a key role in the immune system.
When given as medications, interferons do not last very long in the body. To get around this problem, PegIntron was made by attaching each interferon to a molecule of polyethylene glycol; this makes the medication last much longer, allowing for once-a-week dosing. Because PegIntron is a protein, it would be broken down and destroyed by the digestive system if taken by mouth. For this reason, PegIntron must be injected to bypass the digestive tract.
PegIntron works to fight hepatitis C by activating the body's own response to viruses.