• cost-effectiveness;
  • lamivudine;
  • peginterferon alfa-2a;
  • viral hepatitis


Background:  Peginterferon alfa-2a (40KD), a new treatment option for patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB), offers improved efficacy with a defined treatment duration compared with lamivudine, but at a higher cost. We undertook an economic evaluation of peginterferon alfa-2a from the perspective of the Taiwan Bureau of National Health Insurance to assess the clinical outcomes and costs of 48 weeks of peginterferon alfa-2a for the treatment of patients with hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive CHB, compared to lamivudine treatment for 48 weeks.

Methods:  We performed a cost-effectiveness analysis using a state-transition Markov model simulating the natural history of HBeAg-positive CHB. Efficacy data were obtained from a randomized clinical trial of 820 patients (87% were Asian) comparing peginterferon alfa-2a to lamivudine. We modeled a hypothetical cohort of 32-year-old patients with HBeAg-positive CHB. Life expectancy, quality-adjusted life expectancy, lifetime costs ($NTD) and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) were estimated. One-way sensitivity analyses were performed on all parameters in the model to evaluate uncertainty.

Results:  Treatment with peginterferon alfa-2a compared to lamivudine resulted in higher total costs, but longer quality-adjusted life expectancy, yielding an ICER of $NTD 381 000 ($US 12 000) per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained. Although there is uncertainty associated with the prognosis of HBeAg-positive CHB, the ICER did not exceed $NTD 485 000 ($US 15 000) per QALY gained despite variation in the parameters used in the analysis.

Conclusions:  Our analysis suggests that 48-week treatment with peginterferon alfa-2a compared to 48-week treatment with lamivudine in HBeAg-positive patients offers life expectancy and quality of life benefits at a favorable cost-effectiveness ratio.