Predicted Effects of Treatment for HCV Infection Vary Among European Countries

Gastroenterology. 2012 Oct;143(4):974-85.e14. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2012.05.054. Epub 2012 Aug 2.


Background & aims: The dynamics of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, as well as screening practices and access to therapy, vary among European countries. It is important to determine the magnitude of the effects of such differences on incidence and mortality of infection. We compared the dynamics of infection and screening and treatment practices among Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. We also assessed the effects of treatment with pegylated interferon and additional effects of triple therapy with protease inhibitors.

Methods: We created a country-specific Markov model of HCV progression based on published epidemiologic data (on HCV prevalence, screening, genotype, alcohol consumption among patients, and treatments) and reports of competitive and hepatocellular carcinoma mortality for the 6 countries. The model was used to predict the incidence of HCV-related cirrhosis and its mortality until 2021 for each country.

Results: From 2002 to 2011, antiviral therapy reduced the cumulative incidence of cirrhosis by 7.1% and deaths by 3.4% overall. Reductions in incidence and mortality values ranged from 4.0% and 1.9%, respectively, in Italy to 16.3% and 9.0%, respectively, in France. From 2012 to 2021, antiviral treatment of patients with HCV genotype 1 infection that includes protease inhibitor-based triple therapy will reduce the cumulative incidence of cirrhosis by 17.7% and mortality by 9.7% overall. The smallest reduction is predicted for Italy (incidence reduced by 10.1% and mortality by 5.4%) and the highest is for France (reductions of 34.3% and 20.7%, respectively).

Conclusions: Although HCV infection is treated with the same therapies in different countries, the effects of the therapies on morbidity and mortality vary significantly. In addition to common guidelines that are based on virologic response-guided therapy, there is a need for public health policies based on population-guided therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / virology
  • Disease Progression
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / complications
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use
  • Liver Cirrhosis / epidemiology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / mortality
  • Liver Cirrhosis / virology
  • Liver Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / virology
  • Male
  • Markov Chains
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Polyethylene Glycols / therapeutic use
  • Protease Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Ribavirin / therapeutic use


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Protease Inhibitors
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Ribavirin