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Ribavirin-Pegintron Shelf Life???
May 23, 2009

I live in Myramar (Burma). Due to finacial crisis, The Government has imposed foreign trade cuts that have cut off my Hepatitis c treatment because the drugs must be paid for out of foreign currency reserves. There is no Red Cross, UN, government help here like in other countries. I have genotype 2a and cleared the hepatitis c virus to levels which could not be detected at end of week 4 of treatment. Neither my doctor or his friends or at Japanese Embassy could obtain any more interferon for me. I was stage III liver desease at start of treatment. The cut off came at week 8 for me, but I had a 4wk supply of Pegasys type interferon syringe applicators in my friend's business refrigerator, which I have now used wk 12. Through underground and illegal market run by other doctors, my doctor came up with a 12 wk supply of interferon .... put it is Pegtron variety and the copegus drug I was on now unobtainable is just ribavirin. My doctor said to me that I have no choice if I want to live and get terminate killing liver virus. But here is my question to you: The Pegintron redipens, always refrigerated, all expired in "MAR 2008" and the ribavirin expired "07-07" produced by Sandoz. I always obey doctor who told me not to cut doses of my good interferon to strech out for more time. He said ribavirin would definitely be OK and interferon would be probably OK. I understand you cannot advise utilizing expired pharmaceutical drugs, but given my situation and circumstances, do you have any idea about the effectiveness of these drugs beyond the supposed expiration. Pharmacist officer with the Army told me expiration dates are arbitrary and most drugs are good long after expiration because companies want to make money. He said certain antibiotics, for example like Bactrim, are good for more than 10 years. Thank you so kindly for your advice and caring for Hepatitis victims.

Response from Dr. McGovern

I am so very sorry to hear of your situation. I cannot attest to the activity of the drugs you have at your disposal since I simply don't know. However, I do want you to tell you that there are data showing that genotype 2 patients sometimes are cured with as little as 12 to 16 weeks of therapy. In one study, the cure rates after 16 weeks were in the high 80%-tile range in patients who cleared virus at 4 weeks. Several European studies have looked at 12 weeks as well with impressive results. I hope that whatever you decide to do, that with just a bit more therapy will get you the outcome you so desire.

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