Objective: To compare pharmacotherapy adherence, persistence, and healthcare utilization/costs among US patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) initiated on an oral antiviral monotherapy recommended as first-line treatment by current national (US) guidelines vs an oral antiviral not recommended as first-line monotherapy.
Research design and methods: In this retrospective cohort study, patients aged 18-64 with medical claims for CHB who initiated an oral antiviral monotherapy for CHB between 07/01/05 and 01/31/10 were identified from a large US commercial health insurance claims database. Patients were continuously enrolled for a 6-month baseline period and ≥90 days follow-up. They were assigned to 'currently recommended first-line therapy' (RT: entecavir or tenofovir) or 'not currently recommended first-line therapy' (NRT: lamivudine, telbivudine, or adefovir) cohorts.
Main outcome measures: Multivariate analyses were conducted to compare treatment adherence, persistence, healthcare utilization, and costs for RT vs NRT cohorts.
Results: Baseline characteristics were similar between RT (n=825) and NRT (n=916) cohorts. In multivariate analyses, RT patients were twice as likely as NRT patients to be adherent (OR=2.09; p<0.01) and persistent (mean: RT=361 days, NRT=298 days; p<0.01) and half as likely to have an inpatient stay (OR=0.527; p<0.01). Between the two oral antivirals recommended as first-line treatment, even though pharmacy cost was higher for entecavir, mean total healthcare costs for entecavir and tenofovir were similar ($1214 and $1332 per patient per month, respectively). Similar results were also observed with regard to adherence, persistence, and healthcare use for entecavir and tenofovir.
Conclusions: A limitation associated with analysis of administrative claims data is that coding errors can be mitigated but are typically not fully eradicated by careful study design. Nevertheless, the current findings clearly indicate the benefits of initiating CHB treatment with an oral antiviral monotherapy recommended as first-line treatment by current guidelines.