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LaFleur J, Hoop R, Morgan T, DuVall SL, Pandya P, Korner E, Knippenberg K, Hayden C, Nelson RE. High rates of early treatment discontinuation in hepatitis C-infected US veterans. BMC research notes. 2014 Apr 24; 7:266.
BACKGROUND: Patients with chronic hepatitis C (HCV) frequently discontinued dual therapy with pegylated interferon alfa (Peg-IFN) plus ribavirin (RBV) before reaching the recommended duration of 48 or 24 weeks for genotypes (G) 1/4 or 2/3, respectively. We quantified rates of discontinuation despite efficacy (non-LOE) versus lack of efficacy (LOE) versus discontinuation for unknown reasons in a national database of United States veterans. METHODS: We identified a population-based cohort of U.S. veterans with encounters from 2004 through 2009 who had lab-confirmed HCV infection and initiated therapy with Peg-IFN plus RBV in Veterans Health Administration medical centers. Pharmacy data were used to determine therapy duration, defined as the sum of Peg-IFN days supplied. Patients "discontinued" if they failed to receive at least 44 (G1/4) or 20 weeks (G2/3) of therapy. We classified discontinuations as due to non-LOE, LOE, or unknown reasons using a classification rule based on treatment duration and laboratory confirmed response. RESULTS: Of 321,238 diagnosed HCV patients during the evaluation period, 9.7% initiated therapy and 6.4% met all other inclusion criteria. 54.9% of patients discontinued early; of these, 41.2% discontinued due to non-LOE reasons, 12.5% discontinued for LOE reasons, and 46.3% discontinued for unknown reasons. Among non-LOE discontinuers, most (60.1%) discontinued in the first 4 weeks of therapy, which constitutes 13.6% of all treated patients. CONCLUSIONS: We observed a high proportion of early discontinuations with dual-therapy regimens in a national cohort of HCV-infected veterans. If this trend persists in the triple-therapy era, then efforts must be undertaken to improve adherence.