A clinician’s guide to the cost and health benefits of hepatitis C cure assessed from the individual patient perspective

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Abstract

Background and aims

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) remains a considerable public health challenge. Novel direct-acting antiviral (DAA) regimens offer high cure rates and the promise of reduced HCV incidence and prevalence following the up-scaling of treatment. This has focused attention towards affordability. This study aimed to estimate the economic value of cure to evaluate the treatment costs justifiable from the patient perspective.

Patients and methods

A published, validated HCV model was utilized to contrast clinical and cost outcomes for patients aged 30–70 years, stratified by METAVIR F0–F4, for (i) no treatment and (ii) successful treatment [i.e. sustained virologic response (SVR)] ignoring the cost of treatment. Regression equations were fitted and used to determine the financial expenditure justifiable to achieve a cost-neutral or a cost-effective [£20 000 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY)] cure. Model inputs were derived from UK literature; costs and utilities were discounted at 3.5% over a lifetime horizon.

Results

To achieve cost-neutrality, the maximum discounted expenditure justifiable for SVR was £3774–43 607 across ages and fibrosis stages. Spending between £19 745 (70 years, F0) and £188 420 (30 years, F4) on SVR is expected to be cost-effective at £20 000/QALY willingness-to-pay threshold.

Conclusion

Heterogeneity across HCV patients is considerable, which can obscure the relevance of conventional cohort-based economic models evaluated at the mean, particularly when considering the value of treatment at the individual patient level. By quantifying the full exposition of HCV cost-savings and health benefits realizable following HCV cure, this study provides insight into the economic value of successful treatment from the patient perspective.

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