A study from Baylor Medical School in Houston shows that pegylated interferon alpha 2-b injections and ribavirin pills clear the hepatitis C virus from the blood in 61 percent of patients and improves liver function in most patients.

More than 4 million Americans get hepatitis C from infected needles or blood transfusions, and each year, more than 10,000 Americans die from it. 48 weeks of weekly self injections of pegylated interferon and daily ribavirin pills cured 61 percent of these patients. The pegylated interferon stays in the body longer than regular interferon and requires less frequent injections. This treatment was not offered to people whose livers are severely damaged, who abuse alcohol or drugs or suffer from severe uncontrolled psychiatric illness. The most common side effects are flu-like symptoms, fever, fatigue, nausea, headache, poor appetite, and anxiety or depression. For more on hepatitis C see report #G125.

Reported 3/1/02

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