(ATN) Ribavirin Approved for Hepatitis C Combination Treatment
AIDS TREATMENT NEWS Issue #297, June 19, 1998 John S. James
On June 3 the FDA approved ribavirin capsules for use in combination therapy “for the treatment of chronic Hepatitis C in patients with compensated liver disease who have relapsed following alpha interferon therapy.” In the U.S., the drug will be called Rebetol(TM), and marketed as a combination (called Rebetron(TM)) with interferon alpha-2b, by Schering- Plough Corporation. Schering is selling the ribavirin under license from ICN Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (See AIDS TREATMENT NEWS issue #295 for two articles about this combination treatment for Hepatitis C.)
Comment: Oral ribavirin has long been approved throughout the world as a broad-spectrum antiviral, but has been in limbo in the U.S. for over ten years, due to an old war between the former Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Frank Young, and the head of ICN Pharmaceuticals, Milan Panic, concerning its use as an HIV treatment. Today, with viral load testing available, ribavirin should be re-evaluated as a possible element in modern antiretroviral combinations. The first step could be a review of the published and otherwise- available data about ribavirin and HIV, to see whether a new trial would be appropriate. An AIDSLINE search finds many recent studies which suggest that this drug might have considerable importance.
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