Aim : To estimate the cost-effectiveness of therapy and analyse the effect of therapy compliance in naive patients with chronic hepatitis C.

Methods : A decision analysis using the Markov model was performed for four different therapeutic strategies using peginterferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin or interferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin. Clinical data were obtained from available published reports and from the Spanish health system perspective.

Results : The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of peginterferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin at a fixed dose, compared with interferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin, was 8478 euros per life year saved and 3737 euros per quality-adjusted life year gained. Good therapeutic compliance and weight-adjusted doses of ribavirin decreased the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio to 1636 euros per life year saved and 721 euros per quality-adjusted life year gained. In compliant genotype 1 patients, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio decreased to 916 euros per life year saved and 404 euros per quality-adjusted life year gained, with an increase from 64 to 69 years in the threshold age at which therapy was cost-effective. The sensitivity analysis demonstrated that changes in the values of the most relevant parameters do not modify the study outcomes.

Conclusion : From the clinical and pharmaco-economics perspective, the use of decision therapeutic analysis models suggests that the most effective therapy for chronic hepatitis C is peginterferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin adjusted to patient body weight and with good compliance, particularly in genotyped patients.