November 4, 2002
Program Helps Hepatitis C Patients
BOSTON— A new cognitive behavioral therapy strategy developed by Schering-Plough improves compliance among patients with hepatitis C (HCV) who are receiving the pegylated interferon-based combination therapy Peg-IntronÂ® and RebetolÂ® (ribavirin), according to a Northwestern University study.
Steven L. Flamm, MD, associate professor of medicine and of surgery at The Feinberg School of Medicine and principal investigator on the study, presented his group’s findings today at the 53rd annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease.
In his presentation, Dr. Flamm showed that HCV patients enrolled in an aggressive side-effect management program including the Schering-Plough patient assistance program BeInCharge are less likely to stop taking Peg-Intron and Rebetol combination therapy in the first 12 weeks of therapy than patients who receive only routine supportive care by their physicians.
Study results also indicated that pegylated interferon-based combination therapy significantly improves physical- and mental health-related quality of life at weeks four and eight of the regimen.
“The next advancement in treatment may be some years down the road. Right now we need to maximize the current standard of care to get better results for patients,” Dr. Flamm said. “This study suggests that a proactive support program can actually contribute to the success of therapy and can therefore lead to increased cures for this often deadly infection.”
BeInCharge is designed to assist patients in managing side effects associated with HCV therapy through the use of educational materials and telephone support by nurses. To date, the program has enrolled more than 55,000 HCV patients.
Some 4 million Americans are infected with HCV, and approximately 70 percent of infected patients go on to develop chronic liver disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HCV infection contributes to the deaths of an estimated 8,000â€“10,000 Americans each year.
Treatment for HCV-related disease is expected to exceed $13 billion in the United States for the years 2010 through 2019, according to a recent study.