Hepatitis C drug proves cost-effective in helping patients with treatment-induced anemia

October 03, 2005

FINDINGS: A UCLA/VA study found that for Hepatitis C patients who develop treatment-induced anemia due to a key medication, it is more cost-effective to take an additional drug to help prevent anemia, rather than reducing or stopping treatment altogether, which had been the standard approach.

IMPACT: The study may lead to a new treatment standard for the one-third of Hepatitis C patients who develop treatment-induced anemia as a result of taking a key medication called ribarvirin. Over 4 million Americans are infected with Hepatitis C.

AUTHORS: Dr. Brennan M.R. Spiegel, director, UCLA/VA Center for Outcomes Research and Education (CORE) and assistant professor of medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, is available for interviews.

JOURNAL: The research will appear in the Oct. 1 edition of the peer reviewed Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. A PDF of the full study is available.

FUNDING: Spiegel is supported with funding by a VA HSR&D Research Career Development Award. The research was also funded by Amgen Inc. Global Health Outcomes. Dr. Spiegel has received research funding from Amgen and has served as a consultant.

BACKGROUND: Ribarvin, a common medication used in treating Hepatitis C, can cause anemia, which traditionally leads to dosage reduction and diminished treatment compliance by patients. Practice guidelines suggest that patients with anemia receive a drug called erythropoietin, which helps prevent treatment-induced anemia by increasing the number of red blood cells in the body. Erythropoietin has been proven to help patients maintain a full dose therapy of ribarvin, thus improving rates of complete cure from Hepatitis C. However, the drug is expensive, so it is unclear whether its benefits outweigh its cost.

UCLA researchers conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis and found that despite the high cost, co-therapy with erythropoietin proved more cost-effective compared to using the standard treatment in patients who experience treatment-induced anemia. Spiegel notes that a general cost-effectiveness standard accepted by society and many insurers for treating a chronic condition like Hepatitis C is roughly $50,000 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained. The study found that erythropoietin would cost an additional $16,443 per QALY gained for these patients, which is well in the acceptable cost level.

University of California - Los Angeles

Related Hepatitis Articles from Brightsurf:

Busting Up the Infection Cycle of Hepatitis B
Researchers at the University of Delaware have gained new understanding of the virus that causes hepatitis B and the ''spiky ball'' that encloses its genetic blueprint.

Liver cancer: Awareness of hepatitis D must be raised
Scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) have studied the most serious consequence of chronic hepatitis: hepatocellular carcinoma.

Hepatitis B: New therapeutic approach may help to cure chronic hepatitis B infection
Researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München, Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) have developed a novel therapeutic approach to cure chronic hepatitis B.

Anti-hepatitis medicine surprises
A new effective treatment of hepatitis C not only combats the virus, but is also effective against potentially fatal complications such as reduced liver functioning and cirrhosis.

Nanotechnology delivers hepatitis B vaccine
X-ray imaging shows that nanostructured silica acts as a protective vehicle to deliver intact antigen to the intestine so that it can trigger an immune response.

Checkmate for hepatitis B viruses in the liver
Researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich, working in collaboration with researchers at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf and the University Hospital Heidelberg, have for the first time succeeded in conquering a chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus in a mouse model.

How common is Hepatitis C infection in each US state?
Hepatitis C virus infection is a major cause of illness and death in the United States and injection drug use is likely fueling many new cases.

New strains of hepatitis C found in Africa
The largest population study of hepatitis C in Africa has found three new strains of the virus circulating in the general population in sub-Saharan Africa.

High stability of the hepatitis B virus
At room temperature, hepatitis B viruses (HBV) remain contagious for several weeks and they are even able to withstand temperatures of four degrees centigrade over the span of nine months.

Findings could lead to treatment of hepatitis B
Researchers have gained new insights into the virus that causes hepatitis B -- a life-threatening and incurable infection that afflicts more than 250 million people worldwide.

Read More: Hepatitis News and Hepatitis Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.