February 16, 2009 / 8:11 AM / 10 years ago

Doctors able to predict Pegasys success for hep B

ZURICH, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Doctors will now be able to predict which patients will respond best to Roche Holding’s ROG.VX hepatitis B drug, Pegasys, through measuring the levels of a viral protein, the Swiss drugmaker said on Monday.

By measuring the decline of the S-antigen protein throughout the treatment, doctors can determine how successful Pegasys will be in the long term, Roche said in a statement.

Clearance of the S-antigen, which is considered a clinical cure, is associated with reduced liver cancer and cirrhosis and improved life expectancy, the group said.

“Unlike anti-viral tablets for hepatitis B, which just reduce the number of viral copies, Pegasys also boosts the body’s immune system and mobilises it to fight the disease,” said William Burns, CEO of Roche’s Pharmaceuticals Division.

“Due to these immune-stimulating effects, the number of patients treated with Pegasys who achieve a clinical cure has been shown to continue increasing for years after the end of treatment. This supports its use as a first-line therapy for hepatitis B,” Burns said.

Pegasys is approved for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B in more than 60 countries. (Reporting by Katie Reid; editing by John Stonestreet)

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