For the past three years, various governments and patient advocacy groups have clamored for lower-cost hepatitis C medicines, given the high cure rate for these pricey new drugs. Now, a new study finds that upfront treatment with cheaper generic versions can offer a substantial payback.
“We assumed [generics] would be cost effective, given their high cure rates, but we wanted to know how quickly they saved costs,” said Jagpreet Chhatwal, a scientist at the Institute for Technology Assessment at Massachusetts General Hospital and one of the co-authors. “The results are not surprising, but the message is that governments should scale up treatment.”
Using a mathematical model for patients in India, researchers found that copycat versions costing around $300 would increase life expectancy by more than eight years and reduce lifetime health care costs by more than $1,300 per person. Moreover, treatment became cost effective in two years and upfront costs could be recovered inside of 10 years, according to the analysis published in PLOS ONE.