Investing in new therapies to cure hepatitis C could generate savings estimated at more than $3.2 billion annually in the US and five European countries, shows a new economic model.
The higher cure rate and lessened side-effects of treating patients with an all-oral combination of ledipasvir and sofosbuvir (LDV/SOF) results in greatly reduced absenteeism and improved workplace productivity that can translate into enormous benefit.
"Chronic hepatitis C is more than just a problem for the patient -- it has a ripple effect that impacts society at large. While previous reports have found the cost of these drugs as certainly significant, the long term benefits of curing patients with hepatitis C makes this a worthwhile investment," said lead researcher Zobair Younossi, chairman of the department of medicine at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus, US.
"We were interested in looking at the impact of new treatments on patients' ability to work, and in a broader sense, how this affects employers and overall economies," Younossi noted.
Researchers used data collected from more than 1,900 chronic hepatitis C patients treated with LDV/SOF, which has a cure rate of between 94 and 99% with minimal side effects.
The retrospective study tabulated reported absenteeism, as well as what researchers called "presenteeism," a measure of how productive an individual actually is while at work.
The researchers then built an economic model to estimate work productivity gains associated with curing genotype-1 chronic hepatitis C patients using LDV/SOF.
The results indicated that reduced absenteeism and increased productivity would total approximately $2.67 billion for the U.S. and $556 million for the EU-5.
"We must begin to look at chronic diseases, such as hepatitis C, from every angle, which should inspire progress in developing more tolerable and effective cures," Younossi concluded.
The findings were presented at the gastroenterology conference Digestive Disease Wee (DDW) 2015 at Washington, DC.