Patients who are infected with Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and who drink alcohol are often considered ineligible for anti-HCV drug treatment. However, recent research has found that alcohol drinkers have responses that are comparable to non-drinkers.
Dr. Bhupinder S. Anand, of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston, and colleagues examined the impact of alcohol use on HCV treatment outcomes. Their study involved 4,061 subjects, 726 of whom received treatment for HCV.
The investigators found that subjects who reported using alcohol were more likely to discontinue anti-HCV treatment and had lower response rates to anti-HCV treatment.
However, alcohol drinkers who stuck with their anti-HCV medication had response rates comparable to that of nondrinkers.
‘Our observations are clinically important because they indicate that alcohol use should not be considered an exclusion criterion when evaluating patients for anti-HCV treatment, especially in view of the fact that nearly one third of patients with HCV infection have a history of recent alcohol use,’ note investigators in the journal Gastroenterology. ‘Patients with a history of alcohol use should not be excluded from HCV therapy.’ Instead, they should be given additional support to ensure they complete treatment. The team concludes ‘The current attitude among physicians against offering treatment to patients who use alcohol should be reassessed’.
Source: Anand BS et al. Alcohol Use and Treatment of Hepatitis C Virus: Results of a National Multicenter Study Gastroenterology 2006;130:1607-16.