Comparative cost-effectiveness of antiviral therapies in patients with chronic hepatitis B: A systematic review of economic evidence


Professor You-Ping Ling, Chinese Evidence-Based Medicine Center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, No. 37 Guo Xue Xiang, Chengdu, 610041, China. Email:


Background and Aim:  Economic efficiency of the alternative antiviral therapies for chronic hepatitis B has not been systematically investigated and their quality remains unknown. The aim of the present study was to systematically overview economic evidence of antiviral therapies for chronic hepatitis B.

Methods:  We searched six databases and eight major journals supplemented with screening references of eligible studies. Full economic evaluations comparing alternative antiviral therapies in patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection were included. Two investigators assessed the study quality and transferability, independently. Data were analyzed qualitatively with adjustment when appropriate.

Results:  Fourteen studies (six modeling vs eight trials and database analyses) were included. Quality was high in five studies, moderate in one US and five Chinese studies, and low in three Chinese studies. The major problems of quality are costing methods and analysis and the presentation of results. In Australia and Poland, lamivudine-preferred strategies dominated interferon (IFN)-α and its related strategy from the health-care sector perspective. In the US, adefovir salvage produced US$8446 per additional quality-adjusted life years (QALY) compared with IFN-α. In Spain, the cost of adefovir was US$34 840 for additional virological response. In Taiwan, the use of pegylated IFN-α (pegIFN-α) produced US$11 711.4 per additional QALY, compared with lamivudine. In China, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of combination therapy lamivudine ranged from US$2860 to US$22 160 per additional loss of hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg), and IFN-α versus lamivudine ranged from US$2490 to US$8890 per additional loss of HBeAg.

Conclusion:  The cost-effectiveness frontiers of treatment alternatives vary and are influenced by the comparators and socioeconomic conditions of countries. Lamivudine-containing therapy is cost-effective when newer antiviral agents (e.g. adefovir/pegIFN-α) were not available. Economic methods should be further improved in studies, particularly in China.