Delaying hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment until liver damage was more advanced lowered the likelihood of a cure among interferon treatments in the pre-direct-acting antiviral (DAA) era, MedPage Today reports. Researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of electronic records of 187,860 people with hep C receiving care in the Veterans Health system between 1999 and 2010. They presented their findings at the 50th International Liver Congress in Vienna, Austria.

The researchers used the FIB4 fibrosis scoring system for their predictions.  A score below 1.45 indicates the absence of cirrhosis; a score of 1.45 to 3.25 is an undetermined result; and a score of 3.25 or greater signifies cirrhosiss. The researchers found that starting treatment before the FIB4 score was greater than 1.0 lowered the risk of morbidity by 41 percent and death by 36 percent compared with not treating. Waiting to treat until the FIB4 score was greater than 1.0 meant only a 30 percent reduction in morbidity.

Starting treatment before the FIB4 score was greater than 3.25 reduced the composite risk of morbidity and mortality by 34 percent and by 45 percent just of the risk of death. Starting treatment after the FIB4 score was greater than 3.25 meant just an 11 percent reduction in morbidity and mortality and a 25 percent reduction in just the risk of death.

The study authors cannot determine for sure from these findings if delaying treatment with the current crop of DAAs increases risk. But they do think the findings suggest that delaying treatment can be detrimental.

To read a press release on the study, click here.

To read the MedPage today article, click here.