Background: In developed countries, people who inject drugs (PWID) have a high prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV), yet they are often under-diagnosed. The World Health Organization has set 2030 as a target year for HCV elimination. To meet this target, improving screening in convenient community settings in order to reach infected undiagnosed individuals is a priority. This study assesses the cost-effectiveness of alternative novel strategies for diagnosing HCV infection in PWID.
Methods: A cost-effectiveness analysis was undertaken to compare HCV screening at needle exchange centres, substance misuse services and at community pharmacies, with the standard practice of detection during general practitioners’ consultations. A decision tree model was developed to assess the incremental cost per positive diagnosis, and a Markov model explored the net monetary benefit (NMB) and the cost per Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) gained over a lifetime horizon.
Results: Needle exchange services provided a 7.45-fold increase in detecting positive individuals and an incremental cost of £12,336 per QALY gained against current practice (NMB £163,827), making this the most cost-effective strategy over a lifetime horizon. Screening at substance misuse services and pharmacies was cost-effective only at a £30,000/QALY threshold. With a 24% discount to HCV treatment list prices, all three screening strategies become cost-effective at £20,000/QALY.
Conclusions: Targeting PWID populations with screening at needle exchange services is a highly cost-effective strategy for reaching undiagnosed HCV patients. When applying realistic discounts to list prices of drug treatments, all three strategies were highly cost-effective from a UK NHS perspective. All of these strategies have the potential to make a cost-effective contribution to the eradication of HCV by 2030.
- Direct acting antiviral
- Economic analysis
- Economic model
- Hepatitis C virus
- Needle exchange