BACKGROUND: All oral, highly effective direct-acting antiviral combinations, such as sofosbuvir-ledipasvir, have recently been licensed in Canada but cost as much as $67,000 for a 12-week course of therapy, representing a major economic barrier to predominately single-payer health care systems such as that found in Ontario. In hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 noncirrhotic patients with a baseline viral load of <6×106IU/mL, treatment with sofosbuvir-ledipasvir can be shortened to eight weeks without compromising ≥95% efficacy. The number of HCV-infected patients in Ontario eligible for shortened therapy, and the associated cost savings, are unknown. The authors propose that treating every patient with shortened therapy, regardless of baseline viral load, would lead to significant public cost savings and collateral efficiencies, enabling increased HCV treatment capacity and cure.
METHODS: The present study designed a three-part model to investigate the cost of cure per patient and cost savings per patient under three eligibility pathways: conservative, permissive and ideal. In the conservative model, every patient is treated for 12 weeks regardless of baseline viral load, whereas in the permissive model, patients with a baseline viral load <6×106IU/mL are treated for eight weeks. In the ideal model, every patient receives eight weeks of therapy regardless of baseline viral load. Relapsed patients are retreated for 12 weeks. Data obtained from the Ontario Public Health Laboratory were used to validate the model and generate the outcomes.
RESULTS: In Ontario, 75.34% of HCV genotype 1 patients had a baseline viral load of <6×106IU/mL and were eligible for shortened therapy. The cost of cure per patient in the ideal model was $47,328.44, representing a 29% reduction in the cost of curative therapy and 3.5 weeks of shortened treatment duration compared with the conservative model. The ideal model generated a cost savings per patient of $3,855.17 (8% reduction in treatment cost) and 0.7 weeks of shorter therapy compared with the permissive model, and was the shortest and most efficient while maintaining a cure rate ≥95%.
CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate that recommendations for a shortened treatment course of eight weeks using all-oral direct-acting antivirals in HCV genotype 1 noncirrhotic patients, regardless of baseline viral load, affords significant public cost savings and, on a population level, offers opportunities for expanded HCV treatment and cure.