HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Effect of Interferon-Free Regimens on Disparities in Hepatitis C Treatment of US Veterans

Article

The aim of this study is to determine whether implementation of interferon-free treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) reached groups less likely to benefit from earlier therapies, including patients with genotype 1 virus or contraindications to interferon treatment, and groups that faced treatment disparities: African Americans, patients with HIV co-infection, and those with drug use disorder.

Abstract

To determine whether implementation of interferon-free treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) reached groups less likely to benefit from earlier therapies, including patients with genotype 1 virus or contraindications to interferon treatment, and groups that faced treatment disparities: African Americans, patients with HIV co-infection, and those with drug use disorder. Methods Electronic medical records of the US Veterans Health Administration (VHA) were used to characterize patients with chronic HCV infection and the treatments they received. Initiation of treatment in 206, 544 patients with chronic HCV characterized by viral genotype, demographic characteristics, and comorbid medical and mental illness was studied using a competing events Cox regression over 6 years. Results With the advent of interferon-free regimens, the proportion treated increased from 2.4% in 2010 to 18.1% in 2015, an absolute increase of 15.7%. Patients with genotype 1 virus, poor response to previous treatment, and liver disease had the greatest increase. Large absolute increases in the proportion treated were observed in patients with HIV co-infection (18.6%), alcohol use disorder (11.9%), and drug use disorder (12.6%) and in African American (13.7%) and Hispanic (13.5%) patients, groups that were less likely to receive interferon-containing treatment. The VHA spent $962 million on interferon-free treatments in 2015, 1.5% of its operating budget. Conclusions The proportion of patients with HCV treated in VHA increased sevenfold. The VHA was successful in implementing interferon treatment in previously undertreated populations, and this may become the community standard of care.

Full Reference

Barnett, Paul G. ; Joyce, Vilija R. ; Lo, Jeanie ; Gidwani-Marszowski, Risha ; Goldhaber-Fiebert, Jeremy D. ; Desai, Manisha ; Asch, Steven M. ; Holodniy, Mark ; Owens, Douglas K. (2018). Effect of Interferon-Free Regimens on Disparities in Hepatitis C Treatment of US Veterans, Value in health, Vol: 21 (8), p.921-930.