Abstract Background: Thrombocytopenia is a significant risk for patients with chronic HCV infection and a common side-effect of treatment with pegylated (PEG) interferon (IFN). Thrombocytopenia predisposes patients to bleeding and requirements for platelet transfusions, and may thus place an increased burden on patients and on medical resource utilisation.
Scope: In a retrospective analysis of an integrated, longitudinal database of medical and pharmacy claims and laboratory results in a US commercial health (insurance) plan, patients with chronic hepatitis C viral (HCV) infection were identified by reviewing ICD-9-CM HCV-, chronic liver disease-, and cirrhosis-related diagnoses. Medical resource utilisation and laboratory results were evaluated during the year following the HCV diagnosis index date as well as during the baseline year prior to that index date. Medical resource utilisation was determined by comparing outpatient visits, emergency department (ER) visits, and inpatient hospital stays for HCV patients with or without thrombocytopenia.
Findings: HCV patients diagnosed with thrombocytopenia had a greater incidence of bleeding events (27.3 vs. 9.9%), platelet transfusions (8.5 vs. <1%), liver disease-related ambulatory visits (10.4 vs. 4.4; odds ratio [OR] = 2.3; p < 0.001), ER visits (OR = 8.6; p < 0.01), and inpatient hospital stays (OR = 17.7; p < 0.01) during the study period compared with HCV patients without a thrombocytopenia diagnosis. HCV patients with thrombocytopenia had significantly higher overall healthcare costs ($37,924 vs. $12,174; p < 0.001) and liver disease-related costs ($14,569 vs. $4107; p < 0.001) than patients without thrombocytopenia.
Limitations: Administrative claims data are subject to coding errors; additionally, the patient population may not be completely representative of the general chronic HCV population.
Conclusions: Diagnosis of thrombocytopenia in patients with HCV is associated with increased incidence of certain comorbidities, complications, and medical interventions, and significantly increased medical resource utilisation.