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New SHTAC publication on the effectiveness of treatment for chronic hepatitis C in children

Published: 4 November 2014

A new report on the clinical and cost effectiveness of treatment with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin for children and young people with hepatitis C has been published in Health Technology Assessment.

Hepatitis C is a serious illness that leads to liver disease progression and related complications. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) in children in young people is most commonly passed down from a HCV-infected mother to her child in the weeks before and after childbirth. The main goal of treatment is to achieve a sustained virological response (SVR) and avoid further disease progression. This project assessed peginterferon alfa and ribavirin combination therapy for treating children and young people aged 3–17 years. The systematic review identified seven studies on peginterferon alfa-2a and peginterferon alfa-2b, each in combination with ribavirin. Most of the studies were uncontrolled cohort designs and most had small numbers of participants. SVR rates ranged from 53% to 66% (peginterferon alfa-2a) and 29% to 75% (peginterferon alfa-2b). In the economic evaluation, peginterferon (alfa-2a or -2b) with ribavirin was more effective and had lower lifetime costs than a best supportive care (usual care) approach. Treatment of children and young people with peginterferon and ribavirin may therefore be an effective therapy. However, the poor quality of the available evidence means there are a number of uncertainties.

The report was commissioned by the HTA programme on behalf of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to inform guidance to the NHS. The report is freely available from the NIHR Journals Library.

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