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Antiretroviral treatment switch strategies for lowering the costs of antiretroviral therapy in subjects with suppressed HIV-1 viremia in Spain

Authors Llibre JM, Cardona G, Santos JR, Andreu A, Estrada JO, Ara J, Bonafont X, Clotet B

Received 5 February 2013

Accepted for publication 22 February 2013

Published 23 May 2013 Volume 2013:5 Pages 215—221


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Josep M Llibre,1,2 Gloria Cardona,3 José R Santos,2 Angels Andreu,3 Josep O Estrada,4 Jordi Ara,4 Xavier Bonafont,3 Bonaventura Clotet1,2

1HIV Unit, University Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona, Barcelona, Spain; 2Lluita contra la SIDA Foundation, Badalona, Barcelona, Spain; 3Hospital Pharmacy, University Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona, Barcelona, Spain; 4Hospital Management, University Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona, Barcelona, Spain

Background: The current economic recession in European countries has forced governments to design emergency measures to reduce spending on drugs, including antiretroviral therapy (ART). Switching antiretroviral drugs for others that have the same efficacy and safety profile at a lower cost (cost-reduction measures, CRM) could prove to be a valid means of generating savings.
Methods: Descriptive study of prospective consensus-based CRM undertaken in 2011 in a Catalonian hospital HIV unit among patients with prolonged plasma HIV-1 RNA <50 copies/mL.
Results: During the study period, we made 673 switches (87.5% more than the previous year), of which 378 (56.2%) were CRM (16% of all patients treated), leading to a savings of €87,410/month. Switching tenofovir/emtricitabine for abacavir/lamivudine was the most common CRM (129, 31.3%), followed by simplification to boosted protease inhibitor monotherapy (bPImono, 102, 26%). The CRM that generated the greatest saving were switching to bPImono (38%), withdrawal or replacement of raltegravir (24%), switching tenofovir/emtricitabine for abacavir/lamivudine (13%), and switching to nevirapine (5%). Cost savings with CRM were slightly higher than those achieved with medication paid for by clinical trial sponsors (€80,333/month) or through discount arrangements (€76,389/month).
Conclusion: Proactively switching antiretroviral therapy in selected treated patients with sustained virological suppression can generate significant cost savings in pharmacy spending in developed countries. These findings have implications for decision makers in designing safe strategies that maintain HIV-1 suppression at lower costs.

Keywords: health economics, cost analysis, antiretroviral agents economics, antiretroviral therapy highly active, protease inhibitor monotherapy

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