Background: The goal of chronic hepatitis C treatment is to remove the virus to avoid progression of HCV-related disease. Sustained virologic response (SVR) is the most widely used efficacy endpoint in clinical studies of hepatitis C, and represents the eradication of HCV from the body. The aim of the current review was to examine the long-term clinical, economic and quality of life benefits associated with achieving SVR.
Methods: A systematic literature review was performed using the PubMed, EMBASE and Cochrane library databases to identify articles examining the clinical, economic and quality of life benefits associated with SVR, published in English language from 2002-2013. For inclusion studies were required to enroll ≥100 patients and to report clinical endpoints including hepatocellular carcinoma, overall- or liver-related mortality, or progression of disease/complications (e.g. portal hypertension, esophageal varices). Review of economic studies on cost/cost-effectiveness of achieving SVR were focused on studies assessing boceprevir/telaprevir plus pegIFN and ribavirin as this represents the current standard of care in several jurisdictions worldwide. Quality of life evidence was required to use validated quality of life instruments and provide a quantitative analysis of the impact of SVR versus no treatment or treatment failure.
Results: SVR is durable with late relapse rates over 4-5 year periods being in the range of 1-2%. Patients who achieve SVR frequently demonstrate some regression of fibrosis/cirrhosis and have a substantially reduced risk for hepatocellular carcinoma (relative risk [RR] 0.1-0.25), liver-related mortality (RR 0.03-0.2) and overall mortality (RR 0.1-0.3) in comparison with no treatment or treatment failure. In the 5 years post-treatment, medical costs for patients achieving SVR are 13-fold lower than patients not achieving SVR. Patients who achieve SVR also have health state utility values that are 0.05 to 0.31 higher than non-responders to treatment.
Conclusions: SVR represents the fundamental goal of antiviral treatment for patients infected with chronic HCV, so as to reduce risk of liver disease progression. Achievement of SVR has implications beyond those of clearing viral infection; it is associated with improved long-term clinical outcomes, economic benefits and improved health-related quality of life.