3 The technology

3 The technology

3.1 The objective of this appraisal is to compare the use of peginterferon therapy (in combination with ribavirin or as monotherapy) in mild chronic hepatitis C with the current practice of deferring treatment until the disease has progressed to moderate or severe. Current practice and the technology are described in section 2 above.

3.2 Peginterferon alfa-2a (Pegasys) and ribavirin (Copegus) are manufactured by Roche. For genotypes 2 and 3, the licensed regimen is peginterferon alfa-2a 180 micrograms once per week plus ribavirin 800 mg/dayfor 24 weeks. This course of therapy costs £5019 (excluding VAT; 'British national formulary', 50th edition). For genotypes 1, 4, 5 and 6, the regimen is peginterferon alfa-2a 180 micrograms once per week for 48 weeks plus ribavirin 1000 mg/day (for people weighing less than 75 kg) or 1200 mg/day (for those weighing 75 kg or more) for the same length of time as peginterferon alfa. The cost is £10,963 or £11,889 for 48 weeks depending on body weight. For peginterferon monotherapy, the cost of treatment is £6339 (for 12 months) for all genotypes.

3.3 Peginterferon alfa-2b (ViraferonPeg) and ribavirin (Rebetol) are produced by Schering-Plough. For genotypes 2 and 3, the licensed regimen is peginterferon alfa-2b 1.5 micrograms/kg/week plus ribavirin 800 mg/day (for people weighing less than 65 kg) or 1000 mg/day (for those weighing 65–85 kg) or 1200 mg/day (for those weighing more than 85 kg) for 24 weeks. The cost of a course is £6734 for a person of an average weight of 79 kg (excluding VAT; 'British national formulary', 50th edition). Costs may vary in different settings because of negotiated procurement discounts.

3.4 The marketing authorisation for peginterferon alfa-2b in combination with ribavirin has been varied and now allows for 24 weeks of treatment in people with genotype 1 (low viral load) who have responded sufficiently to treatment at 4 weeks. The cost is £6734 for a person of average weight (79 kg). For people with genotype 1 (high viral load) and optionally for those with low viral load, the cost for 48 weeks of treatment is £13,468 for a person of average weight (excluding VAT; 'British national formulary', 50th edition). Costs may vary in different settings because of negotiated procurement discounts.

3.5 For genotypes 5 and 6, the regimen (and associated cost) is as for genotypes 1 and 4 (high viral load). Costs may vary in different settings because of negotiated procurement discounts.

3.6 The cost of treatment for 24 weeks with peginterferon alfa-2b monotherapy is £1657 (0.5 micrograms/kg/week) or £2652 (1.0 micrograms/kg/week) and for 48 weeks is £3314 (0.5 micrograms/kg/week) or £5303 (1.0 micrograms/kg/week) (excluding VAT; 'British national formulary', 50th edition). Costs may vary in different settings because of negotiated procurement discounts.