Objectives: We studied the cost-effectiveness of tenofovir and entecavir in e antigen positive (CHBe+) and negative (CHBe-) chronic hepatitis B.
Methods: Using a multicenter survey including 544 patients we measured patient quality of life and attributable costs by clinical disease stage. Natural disease progression was studied in 278 patients in a single center. A Markov model was constructed to follow hypothetical cohorts of treated and untreated 40-year-old CHBe+ and CHBe- patients and 50-year-old patients with compensated cirrhosis.
Results: We did not find an improvement in quality of life when viral load was reduced under treatment. Transition rates to liver cirrhosis were found to be age-dependent. Assuming equal effectiveness, tenofovir dominates the entecavir strategy because of its lower price in Belgium. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of tenofovir after 20 years is more favorable for treating Caucasian cirrhotic patients (mean ICER €29,000/quality-adjusted life-year [QALY]) compared with treating non-cirrhotic patients (mean ICER €110,000 and 131,000/QALY for CHB e+ and e-, respectively). Within the non-cirrhotic patients the ICER decreases with increasing cohort starting age from 30 to 50 years.
Conclusions: Results of long-term models for tenofovir or entecavir treatment of CHB need to be interpreted with caution as long-term trials with hard end points are lacking. Especially the effect on HCC remains highly uncertain. Based on cost-effectiveness considerations such antiviral treatment should be targeted at patients with cirrhosis or at risk of rapid progression to this disease stage.