Hepatitis C virus (HCV) recurs in the allograft almost universally after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT), with a variable course ranging from mild hepatitis to frank cirrhosis. The uncertain prognosis after OLT has lead to widely increased use of antiviral therapy in the post-OLT setting. We compared two scenarios (antiviral therapy versus no antiviral therapy) using a Markov-based decision analytic model to simulate costs and health outcomes for recurrent HCV in three age and sex cohorts of post-OLT patients. Efficacy outcomes included total costs, cases of cirrhosis prevented, cases of death prevented, life-years gained, and cost per life-year saved. One-way sensitivity analyses were performed for sustained viral response; annual drug cost, discount rate, compliance, cirrhosis rate, decompensation rate, and cost of dying. Two-way sensitivity analyses were performed to compare effects of (1) changing sustained viral response and antiviral therapy costs, and (2) changing the sustained viral response and cirrhosis rate. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for the reference patient cohort of 1,000 men aged 55 years was $29,100 per life-year saved. The model was sensitive to drug costs, cirrhosis rate, and sustained viral response. The two-way sensitivity analysis showed that antiviral therapy remained cost-effective even if drug costs increased, as long as these increases were associated with higher sustained viral responses. The cost-effectiveness ratio also was sensitive to age and sex of cohort. The decision to treat HCV after OLT with antiviral therapy usually is based on many considerations. Such treatment can be cost-effective if baseline assumptions are met. Our model was sensitive to antiviral drug costs, cirrhosis rate, and sustained viral response. Patients with a progressive course of recurrent HCV are likely to have the greatest gain from antiviral therapy.
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