• Article

Economic efficiency of genetic screening to inform the use of abacavir sulfate in the treatment of HIV

Background: Abacavir sulfate (abacavir) is associated with a hypersensitivity reaction (HSR) that affects 5-8% of patients. While serious complications are rare, failure to identify it, or abacavir re-challenge following HSR, can be fatal. Genetic screening for HLA-B*5701 can identify patients who are likely to experience an HSR and reduces the incidence of the reaction.

Objective: We assessed the intrinsic and practical value, from the US healthcare system perspective, of prospective HLA-B*5701 screening among a population of antiretroviral-naive patients without elevated risk factors for cardiovascular disease, plasma HIV RNA >100 000 copies/mL, or pre-existing renal insufficiency.

Methods: Two approaches were used to evaluate the costs and benefits of prospective screening. First, the efficiency of HLA-B*5701 screening compared with no screening prior to abacavir initiation (intrinsic value of screening) was evaluated using a 60-day decision-tree model. Next, the practical value of screening was assessed using a lifetime discrete-event simulation model that compared HLA-B*5701 screening prior to abacavir use versus initiation with a tenofovir-containing regimen. Screening-effectiveness parameters were taken from an open-label trial that incorporated screening prior to abacavir initiation and other published studies. Treatment efficacy was derived from clinical trials. Modelling assumptions, costs ($US, year 2007 values) and other parameters were derived from published sources, primary data analysis and expert opinion. Multiple one-way sensitivity and scenario analyses were performed to assess parameter uncertainty.

The primary outcome measure for the short-term screening versus no screening analysis was cost per patient. For the long-term analysis, outcomes were presented as QALYs. Costs and effects were discounted at 3% per year.

Results: Over the first 60 days of treatment, prospective screening prior to abacavir initiation cost an additional $US17 per patient and avoided 537 HSRs per 10 000 patients. The per-patient cost of screening was sensitive to the cost of the genetic test, HSR costs and screening performance. In the lifetime model, screening-informed abacavir use was more effective and less costly than initiation with a tenofovir-containing regimen in the base case and in sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that prospective HLA-B*5701 screening prior to abacavir initiation produces cost savings and should become a standard component of HIV care.

Copyright 2010 Adis Data Information BV


Kauf, TL., Farkouh, R., Earnshaw, S., Watson, ME., Maroudas, P., & Chambers, MG. (2010). Economic efficiency of genetic screening to inform the use of abacavir sulfate in the treatment of HIV. PharmacoEconomics, 28(11), 1025-1039. https://doi.org/10.2165/11535540-000000000-00000