Background: Patients with genotype-1 hepatitis C virus infection who have failed to respond to standard therapy or who relapse following treatment may be considered for an interferon-free regimen incorporating a nonstructural protein 5A (NS5A) inhibitor. Sustained virologic response (SVR) with these regimens is typically >90%, but this is reduced in patients with NS5A resistance. European Association for Study of the Liver guidelines recommend simeprevir + sofosbuvir ± ribavirin (SMV+SOF±R) for re-treating patients failing an NS5A inhibitor-containing regimen. An alternative strategy would be to test for NS5A resistance prior to treatment, with therapy optimized based on the results. This study investigates the cost-effectiveness of this strategy.
Materials and methods: A Markov model was used to estimate disease progression for treatment-experienced genotype 1 patients with severe fibrosis or compensated cirrhosis. Targeted treatment with either SMV+SOF±R or sofosbuvir + ledipasvir ± ribavirin (SOF+LDV±R) based on pretreatment NS5A resistance testing was compared to routine SOF+LDV±R without testing. Treatment duration was 12 or 24 weeks for patients with severe fibrosis or compensated cirrhosis (Metavir F3/F4). SVR data for the treatment options were based on the results of published clinical trials. The analysis was carried out from the perspective of the Italian National Health Service.
Results: Optimized treatment using NS5A resistance testing yielded 0.163 additional QALYs and increased costs of €2,789 per patient versus no testing. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) was €17,078/QALY. Sensitivity analysis identified the SVR attributable to each of the treatment regimens as the most sensitive determinant of ICER (range: €10,055/QALY-€43,501/QALY across plausible range). Probabilistic sensitivity analysis demonstrated that, at a willingness-to-pay threshold of €30,000/QALY, the probability that NS5A-directed treatment will be cost-effective is 81.4%.
Conclusion: Optimizing therapy with either SMV+SOF±R or SOF+LDV±R based on pretreatment NS5A resistance testing was cost-effective from the perspective of the Italian National Health Service, in treatment-experienced patients with severe fibrosis or compensated cirrhosis.
Keywords: NS5A inhibitor; health economics; hepatitis C; ledipasvir; simeprevir; sofosbuvir.