International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care


Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of initial combination therapy with interferon/peginterferon plus ribavirin in patients with chronic hepatitis C in Germany: A health technology assessment commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Health and Social Security

Uwe Siebert a1, Gaby Sroczynski a1 and on behalf of the German Hepatitis C Model (GEHMO) Group and the HTA Expert Panel on Hepatitis C
a1 Ludwig-Maximilians-University and Harvard Medical School


Objectives: The purpose of this health technology assessment (HTA), commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Health and Social Security, was to systematically review the evidence for the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of antiviral treatment (AVT) with interferon (INF) or peginterferon (PegIFN) in combination with ribavirin (RBV) in treatment-naïve patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) and to apply these data in the context of the German health-care system.

Methods: We performed a systematic literature search on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of AVT and summarized results using meta-analysis and evidence tables. We applied the German Hepatitis C Model (GEHMO), a decision-analytic Markov model, to determine long-term clinical effectiveness, costs, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) of the examined treatment strategies. Model parameters were derived from German databases, published international randomized clinical trials (RCT), and a Cochrane Review.

Results: Overall, nine RCTs, two HTA reports, one Cochrane review, two meta-analyses, and seven economic evaluations met the inclusion criteria. These studies indicate that PegIFN+RBV achieved the highest sustained virological response rates (SVR) (54–61 percent), followed by IFN+RBV (38–54 percent) and IFN monotherapy (11–21 percent). Based on our meta-analysis, PegIFN+RBV reduced cases without SVR by 17 percent compared with INF+RBV. International cost-effectiveness studies indicate that INF+RBV is cost-effective when compared with INF monotherapy. For PegIFN+RBV, our decision analysis yielded an ICER of €9,800 per quality-adjusted life-year gained.

Conclusions: This HTA suggests that initial combination therapy prolongs life, improves quality of life, and is cost-effective in patients with CHC. Peginterferon plus ribavirin is the most effective and efficient treatment among the examined options. However, because not all chronic hepatitis C patients will develop progressive liver disease, a thorough assessment of the eligibility and appropriateness of treatment with combination therapy must be performed in each individual patient.

Key Words: Chronic hepatitis C; Antiviral therapy; Health technology assessment; Decision analysis.