Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS Med. 2012;9(11):e1001347. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001347. Epub 2012 Nov 20.

Population health impact and cost-effectiveness of tuberculosis diagnosis with Xpert MTB/RIF: a dynamic simulation and economic evaluation.

Author information

Center for Health Decision Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.



The Xpert MTB/RIF test enables rapid detection of tuberculosis (TB) and rifampicin resistance. The World Health Organization recommends Xpert for initial diagnosis in individuals suspected of having multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) or HIV-associated TB, and many countries are moving quickly toward adopting Xpert. As roll-out proceeds, it is essential to understand the potential health impact and cost-effectiveness of diagnostic strategies based on Xpert.


We evaluated potential health and economic consequences of implementing Xpert in five southern African countries--Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland--where drug resistance and TB-HIV coinfection are prevalent. Using a calibrated, dynamic mathematical model, we compared the status quo diagnostic algorithm, emphasizing sputum smear, against an algorithm incorporating Xpert for initial diagnosis. Results were projected over 10- and 20-y time periods starting from 2012. Compared to status quo, implementation of Xpert would avert 132,000 (95% CI: 55,000-284,000) TB cases and 182,000 (97,000-302,000) TB deaths in southern Africa over the 10 y following introduction, and would reduce prevalence by 28% (14%-40%) by 2022, with more modest reductions in incidence. Health system costs are projected to increase substantially with Xpert, by US$460 million (294-699 million) over 10 y. Antiretroviral therapy for HIV represents a substantial fraction of these additional costs, because of improved survival in TB/HIV-infected populations through better TB case-finding and treatment. Costs for treating MDR-TB are also expected to rise significantly with Xpert scale-up. Relative to status quo, Xpert has an estimated cost-effectiveness of US$959 (633-1,485) per disability-adjusted life-year averted over 10 y. Across countries, cost-effectiveness ratios ranged from US$792 (482-1,785) in Swaziland to US$1,257 (767-2,276) in Botswana. Assessing outcomes over a 10-y period focuses on the near-term consequences of Xpert adoption, but the cost-effectiveness results are conservative, with cost-effectiveness ratios assessed over a 20-y time horizon approximately 20% lower than the 10-y values.


Introduction of Xpert could substantially change TB morbidity and mortality through improved case-finding and treatment, with more limited impact on long-term transmission dynamics. Despite extant uncertainty about TB natural history and intervention impact in southern Africa, adoption of Xpert evidently offers reasonable value for its cost, based on conventional benchmarks for cost-effectiveness. However, the additional financial burden would be substantial, including significant increases in costs for treating HIV and MDR-TB. Given the fundamental influence of HIV on TB dynamics and intervention costs, care should be taken when interpreting the results of this analysis outside of settings with high HIV prevalence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center