Current treatments for patients with chronic hepatitis C virus are expensive, and adherence to prescribed regimens is not optimal, according to a study led by researchers at RTI Health Solutions.
The study, published in the June/July 2010 issue of Value in Health, found that patients with hepatitis C virus undergo treatment for 30 to 32 weeks, and that the most commonly used medications used to treat chronic hepatitis C virus, peginterferon (alfa-2a or alfa-2b) in combination with ribavirin, cost third-party payers more than $20,000 per patient during the course of the treatment regimen.
According to the study, about 40 percent of patients did not take their medications as instructed, and non-adherence was higher among patients with severe disease. These patients had lower pharmacy costs due to reduced medication intake but significantly higher health care costs in all other care sectors.
"Hepatitis C virus treatment imposes a significant burden on managed care systems," said Debanjali Mitra, director of health economics at RTI Health Solutions, and the paper's co-author. "But the costs of treating patients who don't comply with their medications are even higher, primarily resulting from more expensive hospital stays. Non-adherent patients are more likely to experience disease progression, develop liver cirrhosis, and need expensive inpatient procedures such as liver transplants. We need new therapies that improve compliance and slow disease progression."
Keith Davis, also of RTI-HS, co-authored the paper.
To conduct the study, researchers used a U.S.-based insurance claims database to identify patients treated for hepatitis C virus. Prescribing patterns, treatment cost, duration of treatment, medication adherence rates, and the relationship between adherence and health care costs were assessed.