Author(s): Schfer A, Scheurlen M, Kraus MR
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Abstract The efficacy of antiviral therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has largely improved over the last years. Rates of long-term therapy success (sustained virological response, SVR) clearly exceed 50\% in the population of all antivirally treated HCV patients, even when including the less favourable virus genotypes 1 and 4. From recent research, it is well-known that adherence to current standard combination therapy (peginterferon alfa plus ribavirin) is crucial for the achievement of sustained response. Psychiatric adverse events, however, are subjectively very burdening and are among the most frequent reasons for premature discontinuation of antiviral therapy in HCV patients and therefore endanger therapy success. Therefore, effective side effect management regarding this branch of symptoms (e.g. depression, anger-hostility, anxiety) is to be considered crucial for the achievement of SVR. This review presents a current overview of the most relevant IFN-associated psychiatric side effects in antivirally treated patients with chronic hepatitis C infection. Moreover, various strategies for the management of these undesired conditions are reported: In particular, we address the issues of diagnostics and pretherapeutic screening for risk factors for the subsequent development of IFN-associated psychiatric symptoms. Moreover, we provide an overview of suitable instruments for the psychiatric monitoring of patients on antiviral therapy. We further discuss appropriate treatment strategies (e.g. prophylactic medication vs. medication only after the occurrence of symptoms) as well as indications for immediate therapy discontinuation due to serious psychiatric adverse events. In many cases, premature therapy discontinuation can be prevented by individual and adequate side effect management, provided that it is started in a timely manner. The continuing clinical relevance of psychiatric side effect management in this context is further backed up by the fact that also novel treatment strategies comprising protease or polymerase inhibitors will still include pegylated interferon alfa and ribavirin. © Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.
This article was published in Z Gastroenterol
and referenced in Advances in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety