We assessed the clinical and economic impact of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy for hepatitis C virus (HCV) in England, Italy, Romania and Spain.
An HCV progression Markov model was developed considering DAA eligibility and population data during the years 2015-2019. The period of time to recover the investment in DAAs was calculated as the cost saved by avoiding estimated clinical events for 1000 standardized treated patients. A delayed treatment scenario because of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was also developed.
The estimated number of avoided hepatocellular carcinoma, decompensated cirrhosis and liver transplantations over a 20-year time horizon was: 1,057 in England; 1,221 in Italy; 1,211 in Romania; and 1,103 in Spain for patients treated during 2015-2016 and 640 in England; 626 in Italy; 739 in Romania; and 643 in Spain for patients treated during 2017-2019. The cost-savings ranged from € 45 to € 275 million. The investment needed to expand access to DAAs in 2015-2019 is estimated to be recovered in 6.5 years in England; 5.4 years in Italy; 6.7 years in Romania; and 4.5 years in Spain. A delay in treatment because of COVID-19 will increase liver mortality in all countries.
Direct-acting antivirals have significant clinical benefits and can bring substantial cost-savings over the next 20 years, reaching a Break-even point in a short period of time. When pursuing an exit strategy from strict lockdown measures for COVID-19, providing DAAs should remain high on the list of priorities in order to maintain HCV elimination efforts.