Hepatitis C in Lebanon: burden of the disease and value of comprehensive screening and treatment

  • Antoine Abou Rached School of Medicine, Lebanese University, Hadath, Lebanon
  • Selim Abou Kheir School of Medicine, Lebanese University, Hadath, Lebanon
  • Jowana Saba School of Medicine, Lebanese University, Hadath, Lebanon
  • Salwa Assaf AbbVie Biopharmaceuticals GmbH, Beirut, Lebanon
  • Georges Kassis AbbVie BioPharmaceuticals, Paris, France
  • Yuri Sanchez Gonzalez AbbVie Inc., North Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Olivier Ethgen SERFAN innovation, Namur, Belgium
Keywords: hepatitis c, epidemiology, burden of disease, screening, Lebanon


Introduction: As few reliable data on the burden of hepatitis C virus (HCV) are available from the Middle East, we analyzed HCV burden in the Lebanese population and the value of comprehensive screening and treatment at different age groups and fibrosis stages.

Methodology: A multi-cohort, health-state-transition model was developed to project the number of HCV patients achieving a sustained virologic response 12 weeks after treatment (SVR12) or progressing to compensated cirrhosis (CC), decompensated cirrhosis (DCC), hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and liver-related death (LrD) from 2016 to 2036. Epidemiology and mortality data were extracted from the Ministry of Health bulletin while costs were collected from insurance claims. The proportion of patients screened for HCV was projected to increase to 60%/85%/99% (low/medium/high screening scenarios) in 2036, with a new cohort being diagnosed each year. SVR12 rates were extracted from clinical trials. Separate models were used for 18-39 and 40- 80 age groups to account for different prevalence and screening rates.

Results: Low, medium and high HCV screening scenarios showed that 3,838, 5,665 and 7,669 individuals would be diagnosed with HCV infection from 2016 to 2036, 40% aged 18-39 and 60% aged 40-80. In the absence of treatment, the projected number of patients reaching CC, DCC, HCC and LrD in 2036 was 899, 147, 131 and 147 respectively for the 18-39 age groups. In the 40-80 age groups, these projections were substantially greater: 2,828 CC, 736 DCC, 668 HCC and 958 LrD. The overall economic burden of these complications would reach 150 million €. However, introducing direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) for F0-F4 patients would increase by 43% and 62% the proportion of remaining life-years (LYs) spent in SVR12 compared to DAAs given to F2-F4 or to F3-F4 only, respectively. Although DAAs for F0-F4 increase the cost of HCV treatment, they also provide the greatest health benefit and lowest cost per LY gained in SVR12. Compared to no treatment and screening, adopting the high screening variant and DAAs access to F0-F4 would cost an additional 1,957 € for every LY gained in SVR12 for patients aged 18-39 and -168 € for the 40-80 age group.

Conclusion: An enhanced screening policy coupled with broader access to DAAs will diminish the future burden of HCV in the Lebanese population and provide the greatest health benefits among middle-aged and elder adults with net cost savings.

How to Cite
Abou RachedA, Abou KheirS, Saba J, Assaf S, Kassis G, Sanchez GonzalezY, Ethgen O (2018) Hepatitis C in Lebanon: burden of the disease and value of comprehensive screening and treatment. J Infect Dev Ctries 12:27S. doi: 10.3855/jidc.10029
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