Treating hepatitis C virus (HCV) in individuals with genotype 1 of the virus when they have milder cases of liver fibrosis is more cost-effective than waiting until liver disease progresses, MedPage Today reports. Publishing their findings in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers devised a simulation model in which they made projections on 1,000 individuals based on 2014 data, comparing the cost of treating all treatment-naive individuals at the various stages of fibrosis with treating when they had advanced fibrosis.

According to the Metavir scoring system, fibrosis has five stages, F0 through F4. F0 means there is no fibrosis, F1 through F3 indicate fibrosis of increasing severity, and F4 is synonymous with cirrhosis.

When compared with treating at stages F3 or F4, treating at stages F0 to F2 would add 0.73 quality-adjusted life years for a cost of $28,899, which translates to a cost-effectiveness ratio of $39,475 per QALY gained. (A QALY is one year of life lived at full health, or more than one year lived at less than ideal health, in which the actual year of life is reduced proportionally to the reduction in health.)

Treating at F0 would cost $187,065 per quality-adjusted life-year gained (QALY) compared with waiting until someone was at F1. Treating at F1 was associated with $81,165 per QALY compared with waiting until F2. Treating at F2 was associated with $19,833 per QALY compared with waiting until F3.

Treating half of all eligible Americans with hep C genotype 1 would cost an estimated $53 billion.

To read the MedPage Today article, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.