Pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention is cost-effective in the Netherlands

Cost-effectiveness analysis of pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV-1 prevention in the Netherlands: a mathematical modelling study.

Nichols BE, Boucher CA, van der Valk M, Rijnders BJ, van de Vijver DA. Lancet Infect Dis. 2016 Sep 22. pii: S1473-3099(16)30311-5. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(16)30311-5. [Epub ahead of print]

Background: Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with tenofovir and emtricitabine prevents HIV infections among men who have sex with men (MSM). PrEP can be given on a daily or intermittent basis. Unfortunately, PrEP is not reimbursed in most European countries. Cost-effectiveness analyses of PrEP among MSM in Europe are absent but are key for decision makers to decide upon PrEP implementation.

Methods: We developed a deterministic mathematical model, calibrated to the well-defined Dutch HIV epidemic among MSM, to predict the effect and cost-effectiveness of PrEP. PrEP was targeted to 10% of highly sexually active Dutch MSM over the coming 40 years. Cost-effectiveness ratios were calculated to predict the cost-effectiveness of daily and on-demand PrEP. Cost-effectiveness ratios below euro20 000 were considered to be cost-effective in this analysis.

Findings: Within the context of a stable HIV epidemic, at 80% effectiveness and current PrEP pricing, PrEP can cost as much as euro11 000 (IQR 9400-14 100) per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained when used daily, or as little as euro2000 (IQR 1300-3000) per QALY gained when used on demand. At 80% effectiveness, daily PrEP can be considered cost-saving if the price of PrEP is reduced by 70%, and on-demand PrEP can be considered cost-saving if the price is reduced by 30-40%.

Interpretation: PrEP for HIV prevention among MSM in the Netherlands is cost-effective. The use of PrEP is most cost-effective when the price of PrEP is reduced through on-demand use or through availability of generic PrEP, and can quickly be considered cost-saving.

Abstract access   [1]

Editor’s notes: Evidence surrounding the clinical effectiveness of pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection has been building for years (see HIV This Month January 2016 [2] and February 2015 [3]).  This article now adds to the evidence with indications that pre-exposure prophylaxis is also cost-effective in a European setting.

The authors use a deterministic mathematical model to represent the HIV epidemic in the Netherlands among gay men and other men who have sex with men. They estimate the cost and cost-effectiveness of two models of pre-exposure prophylaxis usage: a daily dosage, and an ‘on demand’ dosage.  Their base case analysis found that both usage models fall under a willingness-to-pay ratio of €20 000 per QALY gained over a 40-year time horizon, although the ‘on demand’ model was least expensive at only €2000 (IQR 1300–3000) per QALY gained.  The model reflected some uncertainty around the results. However, very few results from the sensitivity analysis indicated a cost-per-QALY ratio above €20 000. Several scenarios indicated that pre-exposure prophylaxis was cost-saving. 

Pre-exposure prophylaxis was approved by the European Medicines Agency in July 2016, however it is currently not reimbursed by most European governments. This paper provides important evidence to make a case in favour of recommending reimbursement. Although the willingness-to-pay threshold used (€20 000/QALY) does not have any formal recognition in the Netherlands, several independent analyses soliciting the Dutch society’s value of a QALY reflect values much higher than this. As noted in the comment accompanying this paper (Niessen and Jaffar), [4] the potential cost of implementing pre-exposure prophylaxis on a large-scale could be higher than current budgetary priorities allow. Still, this is an important study adding to the mounting evidence that countries should begin to consider how pre-exposure prophylaxis can be made available to people at highest risk of HIV infection.  

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