Entecavir Effective as Hepatitis B Treatment
Recent studies of entecavir foundthe drug to be more effective than thestandard treatment of lamivudine forhepatitis B. Study results, published inthe March 9, 2006, issue of the NewEngland Journal of Medicine, alsofound that patients taking entecavir didnot develop a resistance, a commonconcern with long-term use of lamivudine.In one study, 715 hepatitis B eantigen (HBeAg)-positive patients wererandomly assigned to receive eitherentecavir or lamivudine. After 48weeks, 72% of the entecavir patientsand 62% of the lamivudine patientsshowed improvements in their bloodtests; 67% of entecavir patients hadundetectable levels of hepatitis B DNAin their blood, compared with 36% oflamivudine patients. Another studyinvestigated the effects of the 2 drugson 648 randomly assigned HBeAg-negativepatients. After 48 weeks, 70% ofentecavir patients and 61% of lamivudinepatients showed improvement.Once again, more entecavir patientsshowed undetectable amounts of hepatitisB in their blood than did thelamivudine group—90%, comparedwith 72%. No serious side effects werenoted with either drug. None of theentecavir patients developed a resistanceduring the 2-year study.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.