Treating Hepatitis C May Yield Economic Benefits

Pharmacy Times, September 2015 Specialty Pharmacy, Volume 81, Issue 9

Although hepatitis C virus medications are often costly to many patients, recent study results suggest that treating the disease can reduce absenteeism and increase productivity.

Although hepatitis C virus (HCV) medications are often costly to many patients, recent study results presented at Digestive Disease Week suggest that treating the disease can reduce absenteeism and increase productivity, providing a significant economic benefit to society.

The study enrolled more than 1900 patients with HCV who had been treated with an all-oral combination of ledipasvir and sofosbuvir (LDV/SOF), which has a 94% to 99% cure rate with minimal adverse effects. After the participants completed a questionnaire on their absenteeism and productivity, the research team estimated that curing HCV with LDV/SOF was associated with an annual savings of $3.2 billion in the United States.

“Chronic hepatitis C is more than just a problem for the patient—it has a ripple effect that impacts society at large,” said lead researcher Zobair Younossi, MD, in a press release. “While previous reports have found the cost of these drugs as certainly significant, the long-term benefits of curing patients with hepatitis C makes this a worthwhile investment. We must begin to look at chronic diseases, such as hepatitis C, from every angle, which should inspire progress in developing more tolerable and effective cures.”

Although the study authors were encouraged by their findings, they noted that further research is needed to evaluate the economic consequences of an HCV cure outside of a clinical trial setting.