The aim of the study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of peginterferon alfa-2b (pegIFN) compared to interferon alfa-2b (IFN), both in combination with ribavirin, as initial therapy for chronic hepatitis C in Sweden. A computer based Markov model describing the natural course of chronic hepatitis C was used to assess costs and quality-adjusted life-y (QALY) for the treatment strategies. Study population was a cohort of hepatitis C patients from the age of 43 y until death. Natural history and response data were obtained from the literature and from Swedish clinical experts. Costs were obtained from different health care providers in Sweden and based on Swedish clinical practice. In our base case analysis for genotype 1 patients, pegIFN plus ribavirin therapy generated 0.29 incremental QALYs and was cost saving (dominant strategy). Corresponding results for genotype 2/3 patients were 0.09 QALYs at an incremental cost of 941 euros (10,500 euros/QALY). A probabilistic sensitivity analysis was performed to study the stability of our results. From the results we conclude that for genotype 1 patients treatment with pegIFN and ribavirin increased quality-adjusted life expectancy and was cost-effective as initial therapy for hepatitis C. The cost-effectiveness for patients infected with genotype 2/3 was less obvious.
We investigated the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) co-infection in HIV-infected patients at a large Swedish outpatient clinic. We also evaluated the feasibility of treating this patient group with pegylated-interferon alpha-2a and ribavirin (RBV) and found that only a small fraction of the HCV/HIV co-infected patients met the criteria for HCV treatment when following international guidelines. Thus, 11 patients were treated, and HCV kinetics were measured during early treatment. The overall treatment response rate was surprisingly high (73%) and correlated to early virological response.
The main goal for treatment of chronic hepatitis B is to prevent complications such as liver cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma. Knowledge from population studies of the long-term risk of chronic HBV infection, as well as the recent introduction of pegylated interferon and additional nucleoside analogues has changed the therapeutic situation. Recently, a Swedish expert panel convened to update the national recommendations for treatment. The panel recommends treatment for patients with active HBV infection causing protracted liver inflammation or significant liver fibrosis, verified by liver histology. In general, pegylated interferon alpha-2a is recommended as first-line treatment, in particular for HBeAg-positive patients with HBV genotypes A or B. Among nucleoside analogues, entecavir is the first choice and adefovir or tenofovir can be used as alternatives. Lamivudine monotherapy is not recommended due to the high risk of resistance development. Combinations of nucleoside analogues such as tenofovir and lamivudine or emtricitabine are alternatives for patients with non-response or infection with resistant variants, or as first choice for patients with advanced liver disease. Nucleoside analogue treatment should be monitored to detect primary non-response and virological breakthrough. Special recommendations are given for HBV/HIV coinfected patients, immunosuppressed patients, children, and for treatment before and after liver transplantation. The present guideline is translated from Swedish, where it is published on the MPA and RAV websites (www.mpa.se and www.rav.nu.se) including 7 separate papers based on thorough literature search. The complete reference list can be received from the Medical Products Agency upon request.