• cost-effectiveness;
  • hepatitis B;
  • lamivudine;
  • peginterferon;
  • Taiwan


Objective:  In Taiwan, the carrier rate of hepatitis B surface antigen is 15% to 20%, one of the highest in the world. Among chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients, hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-negative accounts for approximately 40% to 50% of these patients. A recent study found that peginterferon alfa-2a (40 KD) is more effective than lamivudine in treating HBeAg-negative CHB, but its cost-effectiveness has not been evaluated. Our objective is to evaluate the incremental cost-effectiveness of 48 weeks of peginterferon alfa-2a compared to 48 weeks of lamivudine, from the perspective of the Taiwan Bureau of National Health Insurance.

Methods:  A Markov model was used to simulate the natural history of HBeAg-negative CHB in a cohort of 40-year-old patients. Efficacy, disease progression, economic, and quality-of-life data were derived from published literature and a survey of clinical experts in Taiwan. Life expectancy, quality-adjusted life expectancy, lifetime costs in New Taiwan Dollars (NTD) (1 USD = 31.96 NTD), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) were calculated.

Results:  The gain in quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) for 48 weeks of peginterferon alfa-2a compared to 48 weeks of lamivudine was 0.45 at an additional cost of 157,000 NTD (4900 USD), resulting in an ICER of 347,000 NTD (10,900 USD) per QALY gained. The 95% central range for the ICER from a probabilistic sensitivity analysis was 228,000–566,000 NTD (7100–17,700 USD).

Conclusions:  In HBeAg-negative CHB, 48 weeks of treatment with peginterferon alfa-2a compared to 48 weeks of lamivudine appears to offer life expectancy and quality-of-life improvements at an acceptable cost-effectiveness ratio.