Patients with hepatitis C virus genotype-1 infection who had no detectable levels of the virus on blood tests, also known as sustained virological response, experienced a 13-fold reduction in treatment costs vs. those who did not achieve a response five years after treatment, according to researchers.

“We have shown important cost reductions arising from sustained virological response [SVR], which previous studies have either assumed or only observed on small numbers of patients,” William L. Irving, of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and colleagues reported in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis.

For the study, researchers assessed health resource usage and costs associated with treatment outcomes in193 patients who received at least two months of treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin therapy for HCV genotype-1 infection.

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Unit costs were derived from the National Health Service Payment by Results database and the British National Formulary. Average follow-up was 3.5 years for those who achieved SVR and 4.9 years for non-SVR patients.

There were no patients with SVR that experienced progression of liver disease state. Conversely, 7.4% of patients without SVR progressed from chronic hepatitis to cirrhosis, and 4.9% progressed from cirrhosis to decompensated liver disease. 

During the five-year post-treatment observation period, researchers observed a 13-fold increase in costs among patients that failed to achieve SVR. This increased to 56-fold among those who were retreated. 

“Achievement of a [SVR] has significant effects on health service usage and costs,” the researchers concluded. “This work provides real-life data for future cost-effectiveness analyses related to the treatment of chronic HCV infection.”


  1. Backx M. J Viral Hepat. 2014; 21, 208–215.