Use of sorafenib in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma before liver transplantation: a cost-benefit analysis while awaiting data on sorafenib safety

Hepatology. 2010 Jan;51(1):165-73. doi: 10.1002/hep.23260.


The role of bridging therapies for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) on the waiting list for liver transplantation (LT) remains controversial. There is strong evidence to support the effectiveness of sorafenib in extending the time to progression of HCC. Using a Markov model, we compared two strategies: one using sorafenib as neoadjuvant therapy before LT (Strategy A), and the other using no bridging therapy in the first 6 months (Strategy B). Reference case: T2 HCC patient with compensated cirrhosis. The benefit of sorafenib in delaying time to HCC progression was expressed as the hazard ratio (HR) and taken from recently published randomized trials. The endpoints considered were: survival benefit measured in quality-adjusted life days (QALDs), transplant probability, costs (C) in euro, willingness to pay (WTP), and net health benefit (NHB), where NHB = survival benefit - C/WTP. The calculated WTP of sorafenib in Italy was 346 euro per QALD. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis showed a median survival benefit of 94 QALDs (10% percentile = 38, 90% percentile = 210). In the base-case scenario (HR = 0.47, monthly dropout probability = 5%, median time to LT = 3 months), the gain in LT probability due to sorafenib was 5% and it increased proportionally with increasing median times to LT and decreasing HR. In the cost-benefit analysis, the incremental NHB of Strategy A versus Strategy B was 37 QALDs; it increased as sorafenib HR decreased and when median times to LT were shorter than 6 months, whereas for longer times it gradually dropped, particularly when Strategy B included effective locoregional treatments.

Conclusion: Sorafenib neoadjuvant therapy is cost-effective by comparison with no therapy for T2-HCC patients waiting for LT, particularly for median times to LT under 6 months.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Benzenesulfonates / therapeutic use*
  • Benzenesulfonates / toxicity
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / economics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Markov Chains
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Niacinamide / analogs & derivatives
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Pyridines / therapeutic use*
  • Pyridines / toxicity
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Sorafenib
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waiting Lists


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Benzenesulfonates
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Pyridines
  • Niacinamide
  • Sorafenib