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Is increased hepatitis C virus case‐finding combined with current or 8‐week to 12‐week direct‐acting antiviral therapy cost‐effective in UK prisons? A prevention benefit analysis

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Prisoners have a high prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV), but case-finding may not have been cost-effective because treatment often exceeded average prison stay combined with a lack of continuity of care. We assessed the cost-effectiveness of increased HCV case-finding and treatment in UK prisons using short-course therapies. A dynamic HCV transmission model assesses the cost-effectiveness of doubling HCV case-finding (achieved through introducing opt-out HCV testing in UK pilot prisons) and increasing treatment in UK prisons compared to status quo voluntary risk-based testing (6% prison entrants/year), using currently recommended therapies (8-24 weeks) or interferon (IFN)-free direct-acting antivirals (DAAs; 8-12 weeks, 95% sustained virological response, £3300/week). Costs (British pounds, £) and health utilities (quality-adjusted life years) were used to calculate mean incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs). We assumed 56% referral and 2.5%/25% of referred people who inject drugs (PWID)/ex-PWID treated within 2 months of diagnosis in prison. PWID and ex-PWID or non-PWID are in prison an average 4 and 8 months, respectively. Doubling prison testing rates with existing treatments produces a mean ICER of £19,850/quality-adjusted life years gained compared to current testing/treatment and is 45% likely to be cost-effective under a £20,000 willingness-to-pay threshold. Switching to 8-week to 12-week IFN-free DAAs in prisons could increase cost-effectiveness (ICER £15,090/quality-adjusted life years gained). Excluding prevention benefit decreases cost-effectiveness. If >10% referred PWID are treated in prison (2.5% base case), either treatment could be highly cost-effective (ICER<£13,000). HCV case-finding and IFN-free DAAs could be highly cost-effective if DAA cost is 10% lower or with 8 weeks' duration.


Increased HCV testing in UK prisons (such as through opt-out testing) is borderline cost-effective compared to status quo voluntary risk-based testing under a £20,000 willingness to pay with current treatments but likely to be cost-effective if short-course IFN-free DAAs are used and could be highly cost-effective if PWID treatment rates were increased. (Hepatology 2016;63:1796-1808).

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