BOSTON, November 2 /PRNewswire/ --

- This Landmark Study Also Shows Response at 12 Weeks is a Powerful Predictor of Eventual Treatment Success.

Roche today announced final results from the REPEAT study, which demonstrate that treatment with once-weekly PEGASYS(R) (peginterferon alfa-2a(40KD)) and daily COPEGUS(R) (ribavirin) can achieve viral clearance in a number of patients who did not respond to initial treatment with PegIntron, another drug commonly used to treat hepatitis C.(1)

This outcome gives hepatitis C patients the opportunity to tackle their disease a second time after initial treatment failure. Furthermore, the results show that a patient's response to treatment at 12 weeks is a powerful predictor of the eventual outcome: the majority of patients with undetectable virus levels at 12 weeks went on to achieve a sustained virological response (SVR), indicating treatment success. Few patients with detectable virus at 12 weeks achieved SVR. These data were presented in an oral session at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), being held in Boston, November 2-6, 2007.

"One of the greatest areas of need in hepatitis C today is to find solutions for patients who have not had treatment success with an initial course of therapy. REPEAT is a landmark study that adds significantly to our knowledge about how to manage these patients, demonstrating that extending treatment with PEGASYS is a promising option", said Donald Jensen, MD, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Liver Diseases at the University of Chicago Hospital in Chicago, and lead investigator in REPEAT. "An important finding from REPEAT is confirmation of the reliability of using a patient's response at 12 weeks as a predictor of treatment success, even in patients with cirrhosis. This means that patients who achieve undetectable virus at 12 weeks can continue treatment with a good likelihood of success. It also means that clinicians can confidently discontinue treatment in patients who do not achieve an early response."

More About the REPEAT Study

Enrolling 950 patients from Europe, North America and Latin America, REPEAT (REtreatment with PEGASYS in pATients not responding to peginterferon alfa-2b/ribavirin combination therapy) was designed to explore whether intensified treatment with a higher fixed-dose induction of PEGASYS and/or longer treatment duration increases treatment success rates. Patients, who had previously not responded to at least 12 weeks of PegIntron plus ribavirin combination therapy, received one of four regimens

- Arms A and B received PEGASYS 360 mcg/week for 12 weeks, followed by 180 mcg/week for a further 60 or 36 weeks, respectively

- Arms C and D received PEGASYS 180 mcg/week for 72 or 48 weeks, respectively

All patients received ribavirin (1,000/1,200 mcg/day) in combination with PEGASYS.

Results Showed

- The primary end point was met: SVR, defined by undetectable hepatitis C virus RNA in the blood 6 months after the end of treatment, was significantly higher for Arm A (16%) than for Arm D (9%)

- A pooled analysis of the 72-week arms versus the 48-week arms showed that 72 weeks of treatment had the biggest impact on success of treatment, with a doubling of SVR rates compared with 48 weeks (16% versus 8%, respectively)

- A pooled analysis of the induction dose arms versus standard dose arms showed that treatment with higher fixed-dose induction for this difficult-to-cure patient population did not provide significant additional benefit

- Response at 12 weeks was a strong predictor of successful treatment