NICE Draft Guidance Backs Hepatitis C Drug

Cost regulator, NICE has recommended the approval of peginterferon alfa on the National Health Service (NHS) in England and Wales to treat children and young people with hepatitis C.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) this morning published draft guidance backing a combination of peginterferon alfa and ribavirin as an option for chronic forms of the disease.

Consequently, Roche’s Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a) and Merck Sharp and Dohme’s ViraferonPeg (peginterferon alfa-2b) will now also be on the NHS treatment options, as the only drugs that are currently licensed in the UK for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C in children and adolescents.

NICE’s independent Appraisal Committee commented that treatment with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin “can decrease the hepatitis C virus to undetectable levels, effectively providing the equivalent of a cure for the disease.”

Based on an average age of 11 years, a body weight of 35.5kg and a body surface area of 1.19m2, a 24-week course of peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin costs approximately £3,700 while a 48-week course of treatment costs approximately £7,400, the regulatory body noted.

In both cases, treatment with Pegasys/ribavirin and Viraferon/ribavirin were found be more cost-effective than best support of care, but NICE noted that they were unable to recommend one therapy over the other from the data provided.


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