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Interferon-Alfa Therapy Is Associated with a High Adverse Event Burden among Hepatitis C Patients in Japan

Aug 7, 2014

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects an estimated 170 million people globally, including 2 million people in Japan. Patients with HCV can go on to develop chronic infections, increasing their risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and end-stage liver disease. The prevalence of HCC has increased in Japan over the past 50 years, with an estimated 70-90% of the cases related to HCV. Previously, pegylated interferon-alfa (IFN-alfa) plus ribavirin (RBV) combination therapy has been the cornerstone of HCV treatment; however, recent approvals of new direct acting antiviral medications (e.g., telaprevir, simeprevir) are expected to improve the success rate for eradicating the virus when added to IFN-alfa + RBV combination therapy.

Despite the frequency of treating HCV patients with IFN-alfa-based therapies, adverse events associated with these treatments place a significant burden on patients with HCV, according to a study published in Value in Health Regional Issues, Volume 3. By surveying patients with HCV in Japan, researchers examined the prevalence of AEs among patients using IFN-alfa-based treatments, as well as the association of AEs with health-related quality of life, work productivity, treatment satisfaction and adherence. Results of the study, “The patient-related burden of IFN-alfa therapy and adverse events among patients with viral hepatitis C in Japan,” show that patients using IFN-alfa-based therapy reported an average of six AEs; each AE was individually associated with decrements in health-related quality of life and work productivity and increases in health care resource use. In addition, the presence of these AEs was associated with a reduction in treatment satisfaction and adherence, jeopardizing the clinical benefit to the patient.

“Relationships between adverse events and both treatment satisfaction and non-adherence suggest significant unmet needs for IFN-alfa-based therapy,” said Marco DiBonaventura, PhD, co-author of the study, and Vice President, Health Outcomes, Kantar Health, New York, NY, USA. “The lack of adherence to treatment may ultimately contribute to poorer effectiveness as patients discontinue treatment before realizing the benefits. Although adverse events can take a physical toll on the patient, their effect on the mental health of the patient may be even more burdensome. Upcoming IFN-alfa-free regimens may alleviate a substantial humanistic and economic burden and could be associated with greater rates of patient satisfaction and adherence.”

Value in Health Regional Issues (ISSN 2212-1099) is a scientific journal that encourages and enhances the science of pharmacoeconomic/health economic and health outcomes research and its use in health care decisions. The journal is published up to three times a year with one issue focusing on the Asia region, one issue focusing on the Latin America region, and one issue focusing on the Central & Eastern Europe, Western Asia and Africa regions.

The International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) is a nonprofit, international, educational and scientific organization that strives to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of health care resource use to improve health.

About Kantar Health 
Kantar Health is a leading global healthcare consulting firm and trusted advisor to many pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device and diagnostic companies worldwide. It combines evidence-based research capabilities with deep scientific, therapeutic and clinical knowledge, commercial development know-how, and brand and marketing expertise to help clients evaluate opportunities, launch products and maintain brand and market leadership.   

Kantar Health deeply understands the influence of patients, payers and physicians, especially as they relate to the performance and payment of medicines and the delivery of healthcare services. Its 700+ healthcare industry specialists work across the product lifecycle, from preclinical development to launch, acting as catalysts to successful decision-making in life sciences and helping clients prioritize their product development and portfolio activities, differentiate their brands and drive product success post-launch. Kantar Health is part of Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP. For more information, please visit