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Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2014 Feb;16(2):e13484. doi: 10.5812/ircmj.13484. Epub 2014 Feb 7.

The long-term effectiveness of methadone maintenance treatment in prevention of hepatitis C virus among illicit drug users: a modeling study.

Author information

  • 1Health Economics Research Unit, Institute of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK ; Non-Communicable Diseases Research Center, Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran.
  • 2HIV/AIDS Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, IR Iran.
  • 3Health Management and Economics Research Center, School of Health Management and Information Sciences, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran.



Chronic infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) is increasingly recognized as a major global health problem. Illicit injection drug use is an important risk factor for the rising hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence in IR Iran.


The objective of this study was to determine the long-term effectiveness (total quality adjusted life years (QALYs) gained) of methadone maintenance treatment (MMT program) in prevention of HCV infection among injecting drug users (IDUs).


A number of Markov models were developed to model morbidity and mortality among IDUs. The input data used in modeling were collected by a self-reported method from 259 IDUs before registration and one year after MMT and also from previous studies. One way and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were done to show the effects of uncertainty in parameters on number of life years and QALYs saved. The expected consequences were estimated using a life-time time horizon for the two strategies including implementation and not implementation of the MMT program.


Our model estimated that total number of discounted life years lived per IDU with and without the MMT program would be 5.15 (5.05 - 5.25) and 4.63 (4.42 - 4.81), respectively. The model also estimated that total number of discounted QALYs lived per IDU with and without the MMT program would be 4.11 (3.86 - 4.41) and 2.45 (2.17 - 2.84). Simulation results indicated that all differences in life years and QALYs lived between the two strategies were statistically significant (p < 0.001). Based on our model, total discounted life years and QALYs saved in a cohort of 1000 IDUs were 1790 (1520 - 2090) and 1590 (1090- 2090), respectively.


Considering the high prevalence of illicit injecting drug use in Iran and MMT effectiveness in prevention of HCV infection, it is necessary to develop MMT centers at regional and national levels.


Hepatitis C Virus; Illicit Drug Users; Iran; Markov Model; Methadone Maintenance Treatment; Quality Adjusted Life Years

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