The price tag of a potential cure for chronic hepatitis B infection: A cost threshold analysis for USA, China and Australia
ICE HBV Stakeholders Group members publish article in Liver International:
Background & Aims
We aim to capture the economic impact of a potential cure for chronic hepatitis B infection (CHB) in three countries (USA, China and Australia) with different health systems and epidemics to estimate the threshold drug prices below which a CHB cure would be cost-saving and/or highly cost-effective.
We simulated patients’ hepatitis B progression, under three scenarios: current long-term suppressive antiviral therapy, functional cure defined as sustained undetectable HBsAg and HBV DNA, and partial cure defined as sustained undetectable HBV DNA only after a finite, 48-week treatment.
Compared with current long-term antiviral therapy, a 30% effective functional cure among patients with and without cirrhosis in the USA, China and Australia would yield 17.50, 17.32 and 20.42 QALYs per patient, and 20.61, 20.42 and 20.62 QALYs per patient respectively. In financial terms, for CHB patients with and without cirrhosis, this would be cost-saving at a one-time treatment cost under US$11 944 and US$6694, respectively, in the USA, US$1744 and US$1001 in China, and US$12 063 and US$10 983 in Australia.
We show that in purely economic terms, a CHB cure will be highly cost-effective even if effective in only 30% of treated patients. The threshold price for cure is largely determined by the current antiviral drug costs, since it will replace a daily antiviral pill that is inexpensive and effective, although not curative. The likely need for combination therapies to achieve cure will also present cost challenges. While cost-effectiveness is important, it cannot be the only consideration, as cure will provide many benefits in addition to reduced liver disease and HCC, including eliminating the need for a long-term daily pill and reducing stigma often associated with chronic viral infection.