MSD (NYSE: MRK), known as Merck in the United States and Canada, announced final results from a Phase III, open-label study designed to compare the impact of two anaemia management strategies on sustained virologic response (SVR) in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 infection treated with VICTRELIS® (boceprevir) in combination with PEGINTRON® (known as VIRAFERONPEG® in some countries) (peginterferon alfa-2b) and ribavirin (P/R). The rates of SVR were 71 percent for both groups: those patients whose anaemia was managed by ribavirin dose reduction (178/249) and those patients whose anaemia was managed by the addition of erythropoietin (EPO) (178/251). The rates of relapse were identical at 10 percent in both groups. These results were presented today for the first time as part of a late breaker poster session [poster #1419] at The International Liver Congress™ / 47th European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) annual meeting.
"Chronic hepatitis C treatment regimens with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin are commonly associated with the development of anaemia, and this effect is further increased with the addition of boceprevir," said Fred Poordad, M.D., chief of hepatology and liver transplantation, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles. "The results of this study show there was no difference in SVR rates among these anaemia management strategies and that ribavirin dose reduction should be the primary strategy for managing anaemia in patients taking boceprevir combination therapy."