Resource use and cost of hepatitis C-related care
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
European journal of gastroenterology & hepatology. - Melville, N.Y.
, p. 1191-1198
University of Antwerp
Background: Chronic hepatitis because of the hepatitis C virus (CHC) is a major health problem that can lead to decompensated cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and eventually death, all of which are associated with significant healthcare costs. Aim: To update the cost of care of CHC according to the different severity stages of the disease in a west European country (Belgium). Methods: Medical records of 157 patients, who were referred to the medical specialist at different stages of disease, were reviewed to identify the medical costs over a follow-up period of 3 years or 2 years in the case of liver transplantation (LT). Six disease stages were defined on the basis of histology (Metavir classification) and/or clinical data. Results: In comparison with mild disease, the cost increased 1.6 times in the case of decompensated cirrhosis, 1.9 times in the case of hepatocellular carcinoma, and 3.4 in the case of LT. The costs for medication, hospitalization, and ambulatory care were, respectively, on the one hand, 81, 8, and 11% for mild disease and, on the other, 18, 79, and 3% for LT. In the case of a sustained viral response, the cost of follow-up within 3 years decreased by 45% for patients with mild and moderate disease. Conclusion: Antiviral treatment is the most important factor governing cost in mild and moderate disease, but once complications of CHC occur, hospitalization costs far exceed the cost of antiviral therapy. Already during the first 3 years of follow-up, sustained viral response decreased the cost significantly. Treatment of patients with CHC in an early stage has the potential to be cost-effective.