Impact of reimbursement limits on patient access to direct-acting antivirals in Italy: analysis of data from national registries

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2020 May;24(10):5758-5768. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_202005_21368.


Objective: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a global epidemic, still highly prevalent in Europe. Given efficacy and safety of HCV therapy by Direct Antiviral Agents (DAA), World Health Organization called for actions to eliminate HCV infection. A limit is represented by access to care, mostly due to the high costs of medicines. In Italy, in 2015, the access to DAA therapy was reimbursed for patients with advanced disease, whereas in 2017 universal access was granted. The aim of this study was to analyse changes in patient recruitment trends treated with DAA with or without limitations to access to therapy.

Patients and methods: 165,105 patients treated with DAA in Italy from 2015 to December 2018 were analysed. Daily patient treatment rate was obtained by segmented regression of interrupted time series analysis.

Results: 74,199 patients with advanced disease (62% with cirrhosis) had access to the therapy during the time period from 2015 to 2017. Following the extension of reimbursement criteria, 90,906 additional patients were treated (43.2% with F0-F1 and 22.9% with F2), with an absolute reduction of 59.9% of patients with advanced disease (cirrhosis decreased to 18.5%). Segmented regression of interrupted time series analysis of daily patient treatment rate showed a progressive reduction of patients with advanced disease, offset by those with initial disease. Notably, elimination of restrictions to therapy did not change the overall treatment rate.

Conclusions: This study showed that a no-limit reimbursement policy for DAAs prescriptions to HCV infected individuals in Italy widened the types of treated patients, but the process towards elimination of HCV infection was not significantly changed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Hepacivirus / drug effects*
  • Hepatitis C / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Registries*


  • Antiviral Agents