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One way to ease hep C treatment

BRIEFLY

September 18, 2006|From Times wire reports

Recovering drug addicts who are infected with hepatitis C virus may stick to their medications better if they are allowed to use marijuana.

Researchers at UC San Francisco tested 71 recovering substance users given interferon and ribavirin to treat their hepatitis C -- which is common among injection drug users. About one-third of the patients also used marijuana.

Half of the marijuana users were successfully treated with the antivirals, compared with 18% of those who did not use cannabis, the researchers reported in the October issue of the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. And just 14% of the cannabis users relapsed, compared with 61% of nonsmokers.

The researchers said that smoking or eating cannabis may help users tolerate the side effects of the antivirals, which often cause fevers, chills and muscle and joint aches.

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