Largest comparative hepatitis C study confirms treatment effectiveness and lower relapse rate for Pegetron(R) patients



    TORONTO, Sept. 9 /CNW/ - Recently published in the New England Journal of
Medicine, the largest prospective study of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV)
treatments Pegetron and Pegasys RBV (R) found both treatments equal in
achieving sustained viral response.(i) The study also found that Pegetron had
a significantly lower relapse rate and is a safe and effective treatment
option which has shown long term viral eradication.(ii),(iii)
    The IDEAL study, conducted by researchers at Duke University Medical
Center in Durham, North Carolina, John Hopkins University in Baltimore, and
116 other US centres, will help the 250,000 Canadians who are infected with
HCV, 20 per cent of whom do not know they are infected and will remain
undiagnosed.(iv)
    "The results from this study are exciting as they demonstrate the
effectiveness of the two leading treatment regimens," says Dr. Stephen
Shafran, Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine,
University of Alberta.
    "A noteworthy finding is that patients receiving the peginterferon
alfa-2b and ribavirin (Pegetron) treatment regimen were significantly less
likely to relapse. Lower relapse rates are important for patients because the
side effects of hepatitis C treatments can be quite debilitating."
    The IDEAL study involved 3,070 patients with HCV genotype 1 infection.
Researchers compared a standard dose of peginterferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin
(Pegetron) with an investigational low dose of peginterferon alfa-2b combined
with ribavirin and a standard dose of peginterferon alfa-2a also with
ribavirin (Pegasys RBV).(v)
    The study found that there was no overall difference in achieving a
sustained viral response between the two approved treatments with response
rates of 39.8 per cent, 38.0 per cent and 40.9 per cent, for the Pegetron
standard dose, Pegetron low dose and Pegasys RBV regimens, respectively. The
findings from the study also show significant differences in relapse rates
between the two approved regimens studied. For Pegasys RBV, the relapse rate
was 31.5 per cent, whereas with Pegetron, significantly lower rates were seen
at both the standard and low dose regimens; 23.5 per cent and 20 per cent
respectively.(vi)
    Another important finding from the study was the confirmation of early
responses to treatment exhibited among patients as an indication of overall
success. Researchers noted that in patients whose virus was undetectable after
just four weeks of therapy, the rates of sustained response after the full
course of treatment were 92.2 per cent and 87.3 per cent for the standard and
low dose pegylated interferon alfa-2b, and 79.7 per cent for pegylated
interferon alfa-2a.(vii)
    The IDEAL study was sponsored by Schering-Plough, the company
manufacturing peginterferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin, marketed in Canada as
Pegetron.
    Globally, approximately 180 million people are chronically infected with
HCV.(viii) In Canada, hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver
transplants.(ix) An estimated 250,000 Canadians are infected with HCV.( X )

    About Schering-Plough

    Schering-Plough Canada Inc. is a country operation of Schering-Plough
Corporation that employs more than 950 people across Canada. Schering-Plough
Canada Inc.'s Web site is www.schering-plough.ca.
    Schering-Plough is an innovation-driven, science-centered global health
care company. Through its own biopharmaceutical research and collaborations
with partners, Schering-Plough creates therapies that help save and improve
lives around the world. The company applies its research-and-development
platform to human prescription, animal health and consumer health care
products. Schering-Plough's vision is to "Earn Trust, Every Day" with the
doctors, patients, customers and other stakeholders served by its colleagues
around the world. The company is based in Kenilworth, N.J., and its Web site
is www.schering-plough.com.

    
    References:
    -----------------------
    (i)    McHutchison, J.G. et al. Peginterferon Alfa-2b or Alfa-2a with
           Ribavirin for Treatment of Hepatitis C Infection. New England
           Journal of Medicine 2009. 361;6: 580-593.
    (ii)   Ibid.
    (iii)  Duke Medicine news release on June 22, 2009.
    (iv)   Public Health Agency of Canada
           http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hepc/index-eng.php. Last accessed July
           27.
    (v)    McHutchison, J.G. et al. Peginterferon Alfa-2b or Alfa-2a with
           Ribavirin for Treatment of Hepatitis C Infection. New England
           Journal of Medicine 2009. 361;6: 580-593.
    (vi)   Ibid.
    (vii)  Ibid.
    (viii) Management of Hepatitis C and HIV Coinfection. World Health
           Organization European Region, 2006. Available at:
           http://www.euro.who.int/Document/E90840.pdf (Accessed 3/17/08).
    (ix)   Canadian Liver Foundation. http://www.liver.ca/Liver_Disease/
           Accessed June 9, 2009.
    ( X )  Health Canada.
        http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/diseases-maladies/hepc-eng.php.
           Accessed June 9, 2009.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    (R) Pegetron is a registered trademark of Schering-Plough Ltd., used
    under license by Schering-Plough Canada Inc.

    (R) Pegasys RBV is a registered trademark of F. Hoffman-La Roche AG.
    




For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: Mona Aubin, Schering-Plough
Canada, mona.aubin@spcorp.com, (514) 428-8833; Marsha Knoll, Edelman,
marsha.knoll@edelman.com, (416) 979-1120 ext. 329; Schering-Plough Canada
Inc., 16 750, route Transcanadienne, Kirkland, QC, H9H 4M7,
www.schering-plough.ca

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