A study, published in PLOS ONE, evaluated the early change in rates of HCV-related hospitalizations overall and HCV-related hospitalizations with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after expanded access to direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) in Canada.
The study conducted a population-based time series analysis using national administrative health databases in Canada. Rates of HCV-related hospitalizations and HCV-related hospitalizations with HCC were enumerated monthly between April 2006 and March 2020. The study used Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) models with ramp functions in October 2014 and January 2017 to evaluate the impact of policies to expand DAA access on hospitalization outcomes.
Rates of HCV-related hospitalizations in Canada increased between 2006 and 2014, and gradually declined thereafter. The decrease after October 2014, or the first policy change, was significant (p = 0.0355), but no further change was found after the second policy change in 2017 (p = 0.2567). HCV-related hospitalizations with HCC increased until end of 2013, followed by a plateau, before declining in 2016. No significant shifts were found after the first policy change in 2014 (p = 0.1291) nor the second policy change in 2017 (p = 0.6324). Subgroup analyses revealed that those aged 50–64 and males had observable declines in rates of HCV-related hospitalizations in the year prior to the first policy change.
Conclusions: Expanding DAA access was associated with a drop in HCV-related hospitalizations in the overall Canadian population coinciding with the 2014 policy change. In light of the time required for HCV-related complications to manifest, continued ongoing research examining the real-world effectiveness of DAAs is required.