Background: Triple therapy with a proton pump inhibitor, clarithromycin and amoxicillin is widely used for H. pylori infection. The appropriate length of treatment remains controversial.
Aim: To determine whether length of treatment has an impact on the cost-effectiveness of triple therapy.
Methods: The study took the form of a cost-effectiveness analysis spanning 2 years. The perspective was societal and the setting, ambulatory care. Subjects were Helicobacter pylori-positive patients with a duodenal ulcer. The triple therapy trials spanned 7, 10 or 14 days and the main outcome measures were cost per patient and marginal cost for additional cured patient calculated for a low cost-of-care setting (Spain), for a high-cost setting (USA), and for two follow-up strategies: (i) systematic 13C-urea breath test after eradication; (ii) clinical follow-up, breath-test if symptoms recurred.
Results: Base-case analysis showed that for both the 13C-UBT and the clinical follow-up branches, lowest costs were obtained with 7-day schedules both in Spain and the USA. Sensitivity analysis showed that in Spain, 10-day therapies would have to increase 7-day cure rates by 10-12% to become cost-effective. In contrast, in the USA only a 3-5% increase was needed. The corresponding figures for 14-day therapy were 25-35% and 8-11%, respectively.
Conclusions: Seven-day therapies seem the most cost-effective strategy. However, in high-cost areas the differences were less evident.