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New Hepatitis C Treatments Are Cost-Effective, But Only for Selected Patients, Study Shows

Sofosbuvir price tag is $85,000 per treatment course

A study led by researchers at the Boston Medical Center has demonstrated that while new therapies to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are highly effective, they are cost-effective and provide the greatest value in specific groups of HCV-infected patients.

The new findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study focused on the combination of sofosbuvir (Sovaldi, Gilead Sciences) and ribavirin for the treatment of HCV genotypes 2 and 3, which account for approximately 25% of all HCV cases in the U.S. Although this medication regimen is effective in curing more than 90% of patients, the wholesale cost of sofosbuvir is approximately $85,000 per treatment course, which has strained insurance budgets and led to treatment restrictions.

Using a simulation model, researchers projected the outcomes, costs, and cost-effectiveness of sofosbuvir-based treatments for HCV genotype-2 or -3 infections in the U.S. They found that, at the current costs, sofosbuvir-based HCV therapy provides excellent economic value in genotype-2 or -3 infected patients who already have advanced liver disease. It also is cost-effective for patients who have failed treatment with other drugs.

For patients without liver disease and who have never been treated for HCV infection, however, these therapies cost well over $100,000 for each quality-adjusted life-year gained, suggesting that for this healthier group of patients, the medication’s cost is too high to be considered cost-effective, the authors say.

“These new oral treatments provide better clinical results with fewer side effects for all patients, but, at the current price, are only a good value for those who need treatment the most –– patients with advanced liver disease or those who failed prior therapy,” said study leader Benjamin P. Linas, MD, MPH. “With lower costs, it would be reasonable to provide these better regimens to all patients.”

Source: Medical Xpress; March 31, 2015.

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