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Aciclovir or ganciclovir universal prophylaxis of cytomegalovirus infection in liver transplantation: an economic analysis

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Background: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) following orthotopic liver transplantation can result in significant morbidity and mortality. Prophylaxis with oral aciclovir (ACV) or ganciclovir (GCV) for all transplant recipients (universal prophylaxis) may be beneficial, but which agent is more cost-effective is unknown.

Methods: A single centre, retrospective study of all patients who had OLT at the Western Australian Liver Transplantation Service was performed. Patients received ACV from 1992 to 1998, and GCV from 1999 to 2001. A comparative cost-effectiveness analysis for the two groups was performed based on the mean total cost of the number of cases of CMV infection and disease as the clinical end-point.

Results: The ACV group comprised of 55 patients and there were 24 in the GCV group. The incidence of CMV disease was 7% and 4% for the ACV and GCV groups, respectively (P > 0.05). For CMV infection it was 16% and 8%, respectively (P > 0.05). GCV prevented more cases of CMV infection and disease than ACV but at an incremental cost of $A20 000 ($US10 172) per case prevented. Overall, ACV was more cost-effective than GCV by $A2200 ($US1119) per person. The cost benefit of ACV was derived principally through a reduced pharmaceutical cost. Both agents were well tolerated without development of antiviral resistance.

Conclusions: Universal prophylaxis of CMV infection ¬≠following liver transplantation with aciclovir is more cost-effective than with ganciclovir. (Intern Med J 2004; 34: 410−415)

Keywords: aciclovir; cost-effectiveness analysis; cytomegalovirus; ganciclovir; infection; liver ­transplantation; prophylaxis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Western Australian Liver Transplantation Service, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, 2: Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, PathCentre, The Western Australian Centre of Pathology and Medical Research,

Publication date: July 1, 2004


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