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J Antimicrob Chemother. 1999 Dec;44(6):811-7.

Cost-effectiveness of azithromycin for preventing Mycobacterium avium complex infection in HIV-positive patients in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy. The Swiss HIV Cohort Study.

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  • 1Internal Medicine Outpatient Department, University of Basel, Petersgraben 4, CH-4031 Basel, Switzerland.


We conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis to determine the clinical and economic consequences of Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) prophylaxis in HIV-infected patients in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in a health care system with access unrestricted by financial barriers. The analysis was performed from a health care perspective and compared azithromycin (1200 mg/week) with no prophylaxis over a period of 10 years based on data from the Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS) and randomized controlled trials. The main outcome measures were: expected survival; average health care costs; and cost-effectiveness in 1997 Swiss francs ( pound1 corresponds to about 2.3 CHF) per life-year saved. In patients with an initial CD4 count <50 cells/mm(3) and no AIDS, azithromycin increased expected survival by 4 months. In patients with AIDS, HAART durability had a major impact on expected survival and costs. Incremental survival increased from 2 to 4 months if we assumed a 10 year, instead of a 3 year, HAART effect. The cost-effectiveness of azithromycin relative to no prophylaxis in patients without AIDS was between 47,000 CHF (3-year HAART effect) and 60,000 CHF (10-year HAART effect) per life-year saved. The cost-effectiveness ratio increased to 118,000 CHF per life-year saved in patients with symptomatic AIDS. In conclusion, in the era of HAART, MAC prophylaxis with azithromycin increases expected survival and reduces health care costs substantially. Starting MAC prophylaxis in patients without AIDS is more effective and cost-effective than in patients with AIDS.

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