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Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2001 May;13(5):483-8.

A pragmatic and cost-effective strategy of a combination therapy of interferon alpha-2b and ribavirin for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland.



Combination of interferon (IFN) alpha and ribavirin is considered the standard treatment for patients with chronic hepatitis C. While combination therapy is more effective than IFN alone, the optimal management of combination treatment remains uncertain.


To assess a pragmatic and cost-effective strategy for the therapy of treatment-naive patients with chronic hepatitis C.


Markov model on original data of two randomized trials.


A validated computer simulation model was applied to non-cirrhotic hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected patients. Patient characteristics and efficacy of treatment were extracted from two randomized trials reporting on 1,445 non-cirrhotic patients. Different strategies were compared separately for genotype 1 and genotype non-1 (mostly genotype 2/3) infections: (1) no treatment; (2) IFN for 48 weeks (if at 12 weeks HCV RNA undetectable); (3) IFN and ribavirin for 24 weeks; (4) IFN and ribavirin for 48 weeks; (5) IFN and ribavirin for 48 weeks (if at 24 weeks HCV RNA undetectable). All strategies were tested for different combinations of known response factors.


In genotype non-1 infection, 24 weeks of combination therapy dominates all other strategies. In genotype 1 infection, 48 weeks of combination therapy for week-24 responders only prolongs life expectancy at a favourable cost-effectiveness ratio (CE) of 7,135 euros per quality-adjusted life year (QALY). Taking response factors other than genotype into account does not add to the effectiveness or cost effectiveness.


Treating non-cirrhotic patients with chronic hepatitis C according to genotype only is most cost effective independent of the number of other known response factors.

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