Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of existing needle and syringe programmes in preventing hepatitis C transmission in people who inject drugs

Sedona Sweeney, Zoe Ward, Lucy Platt, Lorna Guinness, Matthew Hickman, Vivian Hope, Lisa Maher, Jenny Iversen, Sharon J. Hutchinson, Josie Smith, Rachel Ayres, Ingrid Hainey, Peter Vickerman

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18 Citations (Scopus)
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Aim: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of needle and syringe programmes (NSPs) compared to no NSPs on hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission in the United Kingdom.
Design: Cost-effectiveness analysis from NHS/ health-provider perspective, utilising a dynamic transmission model of HCV infection and disease progression, calibrated using city-specific surveillance and survey data, and primary data collection on NSP costs. The effectiveness of NSPs preventing HCV acquisition was based on empirical evidence.
Setting: UK settings with different chronic HCV prevalence among people who inject drugs (PWID): Dundee (26%), Walsall (18%), and Bristol (45%)
Population: PWID
Interventions: Current NSP provision is compared to a counterfactual scenario where NSPs are removed for 10 years and then returned to existing levels with effects collected for 40 years.
Measurements: HCV infections, and cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained through NSPs over 50 years
Findings: Compared to a willingness-to-pay threshold of £20,000 per QALY gained, NSPs were highly cost-effective over a time-horizon of 50 years and decreased the number of HCV incident infections. The mean incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was cost-saving in Dundee and Bristol, and £596 per QALY gained in Walsall, with 78%, 46% and 40% of simulations being cost-saving in each city, respectively, with differences driven by coverage of NSP and HCV prevalence (lowest in Walsall). Over 90% of simulations were cost-effective at the willingness-to-pay threshold. Results were robust to sensitivity analyses including varying the time-horizon, HCV treatment cost and numbers of HCV treatments per year.
Conclusions: We projected NSPs avert HCV infections and are highly cost-effective in the UK and could be cost-saving to the NHS and other health care providers. NSPs will remain cost-effective in the UK irrespective of changes in HCV treatment cost and scale-up, meaning that NSPs will continue to be an efficient strategy for preventing HCV transmission in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-570
Issue number3
Early online date23 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


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