July 7, 2011

Direct Medical Care Costs Among Pegylated Interferon Plus Ribavirin-Treated and Untreated Chronic Hepatitis C Patients

Dig Dis Sci. 2011 Jun 30. [Epub ahead of print]

Solomon M, Bonafede M, Pan K, Wilson K, Beam C, Chakravarti P, Spiegel B.

Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.


BACKGROUND: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a common and expensive infectious disease. The current standard of care for HCV infection, pegylated interferon with ribavirin (PEG-RBV), is costly and has a significant adverse event profile.

AIM: To quantify the direct economic burden of HCV infection and PEG-RBV treatment for HCV.

METHODS: Using a large administrative claims database, we evaluated the medical and prescription drug costs of patients with HCV from 2002 to 2007. A cohort of patients with PEG-RBV was 1:1 propensity score-matched to a cohort of untreated HCV patients. Multivariate models adjusted for demographic and clinical characteristics in evaluating the effect of PEG-RBV treatment on direct medical expenditure.

RESULTS: The matched analysis included 20,002 patients. PEG-RBV-treated patients had higher total direct medical costs ($28,547 vs. $21,752; P < 0.001), outpatient pharmacy costs ($17,419 vs. $2,900; P < 0.001), and outpatient physician visit costs ($894 vs. $787; P < 0.001), but lower inpatient costs ($3,942 vs. $9,543; P < 0.001) and emergency room costs ($366 vs. $505; P < 0.001). After multivariate adjustment, PEG-RBV use was associated with an additional $9,423 in total direct medical costs and an additional $12,244 in HCV-related total medical costs.

CONCLUSION: Total HCV-related medical costs are higher for treated than untreated patients, driven mostly by higher outpatient pharmacy costs, which outweigh higher HCV-related inpatient costs incurred by untreated patients.


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