Randomized controlled trial of danoprevir plus peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin in treatment-naïve patients with hepatitis C virus genotype 1 infection

Patrick Marcellin, Curtis Cooper, Luis Balart, Dominique Larrey, Terry Box, Eric Yoshida, Eric Lawitz, Peter Buggisch, Peter Ferenci, Martin Weltman, Emily Labriola-Tompkins, Sophie Le Pogam, Isabel Nájera, Denise Thomas, Gregory Hooper, Nancy S Shulman, Ying Zhang, Mercidita T Navarro, Chin Yin Lim, Michael Brunda, Norah A Terrault, Ellen S Yetzer
Gastroenterology 2013, 145 (4): 790-800.e3

BACKGROUND & AIMS: The combination of a hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease inhibitor, peginterferon, and ribavirin is the standard of care for patients with HCV genotype 1 infection. We report the efficacy and safety of response-guided therapy with danoprevir (a potent second-generation protease inhibitor), peginterferon alfa-2a (40 KD), and ribavirin in these patients.

METHODS: Treatment-naïve patients (N = 237) were randomly assigned to groups given 12 weeks of danoprevir (300 mg every 8 hours; 600 mg every 12 hours, and 900 mg every 12 hours) or placebo plus peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin, followed by peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin. Patients given danoprevir who had an extended rapid virologic response (eRVR4-20: HCV RNA <15 IU/mL during weeks 4-20) stopped therapy at week 24; those without an eRVR4-20 continued therapy to 48 weeks. Patients who were given placebo received 48 weeks of peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin. The primary efficacy end point was sustained virologic response (SVR: HCV RNA <15 IU/mL after 24 weeks without treatment).

RESULTS: Rates of SVR were higher among patients given danoprevir 300 mg (68%), 600 mg (85%), and 900 mg (76%) than placebo (42%) (95% confidence interval: 26%-59%). Seventy-nine percent of patients given danoprevir 600 mg had an eRVR4-20; among these, 96% had an SVR. Serious adverse events were reported in 7% to 8% of patients given danoprevir and 19% given placebo. Four patients given danoprevir (1 patient in the 600-mg group and 3 in the 900-mg group) had reversible, grade 4 increases in alanine aminotransferase, which led to early discontinuation of the 900-mg arm of the study.

CONCLUSIONS: The combination of danoprevir, peginterferon alfa-2a, and ribavirin leads to high rates of SVR in patients with HCV genotype 1 infection, but high doses of danoprevir can lead to grade 4 increases in alanine aminotransferase. Studies of lower doses of danoprevir with ritonavir, to reduce overall danoprevir exposure while maintaining potent antiviral activity, are underway; number, NCT00963885.

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