The Truven Health Blog

The latest healthcare topics from a trusted, proven, and unbiased source.


The Burden of Hepatitis C Infection

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) may lead to devastating health problems such as cirrhosis or cancer of the liver, which may develop decades after the initial infection. Although the incidence of HCV infection peaked in the late 1980s, roughly 3.2 million people in the United States today have a chronic infection. Given the long course of this disease, the medical consequences of HCV and related direct and indirect costs are continually rising. The estimated total nationwide cost associated with hospitalizations for HCV infection with advanced liver disease is .7 billion per year[1]. 

Clinical research demonstrates that the consequences of HCV can be mitigated with appropriate antiviral treatment. However, patient adherence is challenging due to lack of awareness and tolerability issues. We recently completed a study examining the medical costs and lost work productivity among patients diagnosed with and treated for HCV between 1997 and 2012. Our results show that patients with the shortest duration of treatment exhibited the highest post-treatment total and HCV-specific costs and lost productivity over time. Specifically, patients with the shortest duration of treatment had about 50% greater total health costs, double HCV-specific costs, and 20% greater short term disability days. The data further show that due to low cure rates, rates of re-treatment are high. 

These results provide an important baseline for understanding the significant unmet needs for HCV patients treated with the older interferon/ribavirin regimens and the opportunity for newer treatments to better facilitate appropriate adherence, improved patient health, quality of life, work productivity, and reduce the need for re-treatment.

 This study and white paper are available at 

This study was funded by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)


[1] Xu F, Tong X, Leidner AJ. Hospitalizations and costs associated with hepatitis C and advanced liver disease continue to increase. Health Aff (Millwood). 2014 Oct;33(10):1728-35.