Study looks at hepatitis drug, depression risk
Last Updated: 2002-11-25 13:00:10 -0400 (Reuters Health)
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Up to one third of patients with
hepatitis C who are treated with interferon may become depressed,
according to the results of a small study. However, many patients
can take antidepressants while continuing their interferon therapy,
the researchers report.
Besides being used to treat the potentially life-threatening
liver disease hepatitis C virus (HCV), interferon is also used to
treat adult leukemia, certain kidney cancers, the skin cancer
melanoma and hepatitis B.
"The good news is that, in most cases, we could successfully
treat the depression," lead study author Dr. Peter Hauser of the
Portland VA Medical Center in Oregon said in a prepared
While previous studies have identified depression as a potential
side effect of interferon therapy, little is known about how common
depression occurs in such patients. And, while physicians have been
inclined to halt interferon therapy when depression arises, Hauser
and colleagues now say that, according to their study findings,
most patients can be treated with antidepressants while remaining
on the drug.
Writing in the November issue of Molecular Psychiatry, Hauser's
team reports on a group of 39 HCV-infected patients who were
treated with interferon. All of the patients were monitored for
depression each week during the study period.
"Our results showed that 13 of 39 patients (33%) developed
interferon-induced major depressive disorder," the authors
Notably, the investigation revealed depressive symptoms
typically developed between the 6th and 22nd week of interferon
"We found that when depression developed in our patients it
developed rapidly," Hauser and colleagues write. As such, the
investigators recommend that patients be screened for depression
every 2 weeks.
Of the 13 patients who developed depression, 11 of them
responded positively to antidepressants, the report indicates.
"Treating HCV patients with antidepressants may ultimately
reduce deaths as well as permit HCV patients to complete a full
course of interferon therapy and possibly avoid the complications
of advanced liver disease," the authors conclude.
The study was funded by grants from Integrated Therapeutics, a
subsidiary of Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals, and Forest
SOURCE: Molecular Psychiatry 2002;7:942-947.
Copyright © 2002 Reuters Limited
Home | What is HCV | Transmission |
| Lab |
Links | Transplant |