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Am J Med. 2000 Apr 1;108(5):366-73.

Cost effectiveness of ribavirin/interferon alfa-2b after interferon relapse in chronic hepatitis C.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Tupper Research Institute, New England Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.



Many patients with chronic hepatitis C who are treated with interferon suffer a relapse after an initial response. About half of these patients have a sustained virological response to retreatment with the combination of ribavirin and interferon alfa-2b. The aim of this study was to estimate the cost effectiveness of retreatment with combination therapy versus interferon alone for patients who have previously relapsed after interferon.


Data from a randomized trial among 345 relapsed patients that compared combination therapy with interferon alone were used to project lifelong clinical and economic outcomes. Natural history and economic estimates (discounted at 3% per year) were based upon published literature, expert panel estimates, and cost and reimbursement data.


Compared with retreatment with interferon alone, combination therapy should prolong life expectancy by about 2 discounted quality-adjusted life years (3 life years, undiscounted) while increasing costs modestly. The results were robust, maintaining an advantage to combination therapy in sensitivity analysis for all subgroups and with reasonable variations in all model parameters.


For patients with chronic hepatitis C who relapse after an initial response to interferon alone, retreatment with the combination of ribavirin and interferon alfa-2b should prolong life and be cost effective.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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