Hepatitis C virus is mainly transmitted by contact with infected blood. Chronic hepatitis C infection affects around 3% of the world's population and progresses slowly. Most patients present without symptoms, or with symptoms like fatigue or liver-related morbidity (illness). Frequently, the disease is discovered by coincidence because of abnormal laboratory results. Between 5% and 40% of all infected patients will develop severe liver damage, which can cause severe liver-related morbidities and eventually death. Current treatment consists of pegylated interferon-alpha plus ribavirin, and in some groups of patients these two agents are administered in combination with antiviral drugs such as telaprevir or boceprevir. It is then possible to eradicate the virus from the blood in at least 70% of patients with chronic hepatitis C, but the clinical effects are not known.
Review questions and study characteristics
Only amantadine has been tested in randomised clinical trials including participants with chronic hepatitis C. The main goal of these trials was to investigate whether amantadine as a single therapy or amantadine in combination with other antiviral therapy, compared with placebo or no intervention (with or without antiviral therapy), could increase the proportion of patients with virus eradication from the blood. This review evaluates whether amantadine has any beneficial or harmful effect in patients with chronic hepatitis C. The primary outcomes were all-cause mortality or liver-related morbidity (combined outcome) and adverse events. The review includes 41 randomised clinical trials with a total of 6193 patients.
Key results and quality of evidence
This review shows that there seems to be no significant benefit of amantadine on hepatitis C-infected patients regarding all-cause mortality or liver-related morbidity. We were unable to assess the effect of amantadine on quality of life due to lack of data from the trials. Furthermore, amantadine did not increase the proportion of patients with a sustained virological response which is clearance of the virus from the blood six months after treatment. We considered all the included trials to have a high risk of bias. Accordingly, the evidence from this review does not support the routine clinical use of amantadine. There is some justification for amantadine to be used in future randomised clinical trials. We found no randomised clinical trials assessing other aminoadamantanes, for example rimantadine.
This systematic review does not demonstrate any significant effects of amantadine on all-cause mortality or liver-related morbidity composite outcome and on adverse events in patients with hepatitis C; however, the median trial duration was 12 months, with a median follow-up of six months, which is not long enough to assess the composite outcome sufficiently. Overall, we did not see an effect of amantadine on failure to achieve a sustained virological response. Subgroup analyses demonstrated that the combination of amantadine plus interferon-alpha and ribavirin seems to increase the number of patients achieving a sustained virological response. This finding may be caused by both systematic errors (bias) and risks of random errors (play of chance), but it could also be real. Based on the results of the overall evidence, it appears less likely that future trials assessing amantadine for patients with chronic hepatitis C will show strong benefits. Therefore, it is probably advisable to wait for the results of trials assessing other direct-acting antiviral drugs. In the absence of convincing evidence of benefit, the use of amantadine is justified in the context of randomised clinical trials assessing the effects of combination therapy. We found a lack of evidence on other aminoadamantanes than amantadine.
Around 3% of the world's population (approximately 160 million people) are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus. The proportion of infected people who develop clinical symptoms varies between 5% and 40%. Combination therapy with pegylated interferon-alpha plus ribavirin eradicates the virus from the blood six months after treatment (sustained virological response) in approximately 40% to 80% of infected patients, depending on the viral genotype. New antiviral agents, such as boceprevir and telaprevir, in combination with standard therapy, can increase sustained virological response in genotype 1 infected patients to at least 70%. There is therefore an unmet need for drugs that can achieve a higher proportion of sustained virological response. Aminoadamantanes are antiviral drugs used for treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C.
To assess the beneficial and harmful effects of aminoadamantanes for patients with chronic hepatitis C infection by conducting a systematic review with meta-analyses of randomised clinical trials, as well as trial sequential analyses.
We conducted electronic searches of the Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group Controlled Trials Register (1996 to December 2013), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) 2013, Issue 11 of 12 (1995 to December 2013), MEDLINE (1946 to December 2013), EMBASE (1974 to December 2013), Science Citation Index EXPANDED (1900 to December 2013), the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (www.who.int/ictrp), Google Scholar, and Eudrapharm up to December 2013 and checked the reference lists of identified publications.
Randomised clinical trials assessing aminoadamantanes in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection.
Two authors independently extracted data. We assessed for risks of systematic errors ('bias') using the 'Risk of bias' tool. We analysed dichotomous data with risk ratio (RR) and continuous data with mean difference (MD) or standardised mean difference (SMD), both with 95% confidence intervals (CI). We used trial sequential analysis to assess the risk of random errors ('play of chance'). We assessed quality using the GRADE system.
We included 41 randomised clinical trials with 6193 patients with chronic hepatitis C. All trials had high risk of bias. All included trials compared amantadine versus placebo or no intervention. Standard antiviral therapy was administered equally to the intervention and the control groups in 40 trials. The standard antiviral therapy, which was administered to both intervention groups, was interferon-alpha, interferon-alpha plus ribavirin, and peg interferon-alpha plus ribavirin, depending on the time when the trial was conducted.
When we meta-analysed all trials together, the overall results demonstrated no significant effects of amantadine, when compared with placebo or no intervention, on our all-cause mortality or liver-related morbidity composite outcome (5/2353 (0.2%) versus 6/2264 (0.3%); RR 0.90, 95% CI 0.38 to 2.17; I² = 0%; 32 trials; very low quality). There was also no significant effect on adverse events (288/2869 (10%) versus 293/2777 (11%); RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.84 to 1.14; I² = 0%; 35 trials; moderate quality). We used both fixed-effect and random-effects meta-analyses. Amantadine, when compared with placebo or no intervention, did not significantly influence the number of patients who failed to achieve a sustained virological response (1821/2861 (64%) versus 1737/2721 (64%); RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.02; I² = 35%; 35 trials; moderate quality). However, in the subgroup using interferon plus ribavirin, amantadine decreased the number of patients who failed to achieve a sustained virological response (422/666 (63%) versus 447/628 (71%); RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.83 to 0.96; I² = 41%; 11 trials; low quality). Similar results were found for failure to achieve an end of treatment virological response. Amantadine, when compared with placebo or no intervention, significantly decreased the number of patients without normalisation of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) serum levels at the end of treatment (671/1141 (59%) versus 732/1100 (67%); RR 0.88, 95% CI 0.83 to 0.94; I² = 47%; 19 trials; low quality). Amantadine, when compared with placebo or no intervention, did not significantly influence the end of follow-up biochemical response (1133/1896 (60%) versus 1151/1848 (62%); RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.91 to 1.00; I² = 49%; 21 trials; low quality).
The observed beneficial effects could be true effects but could also be due to both systematic errors (bias) and random errors (play of chance). The latter is due to the fact that trial sequential analyses could not confirm or refute our findings. We were not able to perform meta-analyses for failure of histological improvement or quality of life due to a lack of valid data.