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Lege Artis Medicinae

NOVEMBER 19, 2006

[TREATMENT APPROACHES OF CHRONIC HEPATITIS B IN HUNGARY]

TORNAI István, NEMESÁNSZKY Elemér

[Today, there are less patients with active chronic hepatitis B requiring treatment than patients with chronic hepatitis C. However, the course and outcome of chronic hepatitis B is usually more severe, therefore, the disease has not lost importance. The most dangerous risks are the development of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The disease may present in various forms. Symptom-free carriers only need follow-up and hepatologic care. In the active stages with elevated liver enzymes and high level of viral nucleic acid (either HBeAg negative or positive), however, antiviral treatment is strongly indicated. There are two main forms of treatment. Alfa-interferon-based therapy, which is applied for a defined period of time, has a direct antiviral and immunomodulatory effect, but has several adverse effects. Long-term nucleoside analogue treatment represent the other treatment modality. These drugs are administered orally, have minimal side effects, but after some time resistant mutants may develop. Traditional interferon has recently been replaced by pegylated interferon alfa-2a with much better pharmacokinetic properties. Lamivudine has been in use for the longest time of the nucleoside analogues. Its efficacy is high, but after 3 to 4 years of treatment, resistant mutants appear in about 70% of cases. Of the most recent compounds, adefovir dipivoxil has recently become available in Hungary; it is primarily recommended in cases with lamivudine resistant mutants. There are promising new drugs in the stages of clinical trial; of these, entecavir has already been approved in the United States.]