Cost-effectiveness of additional blood screening tests in the Netherlands
Background: During the past decade, blood screening tests such as triplex nucleic acid amplification testing (NAT) and human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or I (HTLV-I/II) antibody testing were added to existing serologic testing for hepatitisB virus (HBV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and hepatitisC virus (HCV). In some low-prevalence regions these additional tests yielded disputable benefits that can be valuated by cost-effectiveness analyses (CEAs). CEAs are used to support decision making on implementation of medical technology. We present CEAs of selected additional screening tests that are not uniformly implemented in the EU. Study Design And Methods: Cost-effectiveness was analyzed of: 1) HBV, HCV, and HIV triplex NAT in addition to serologic testing; 2) HTLV-I/II antibody test for all donors, for first-time donors only, and for pediatric recipients only; and 3) hepatitisA virus (HAV) for all donations. Disease progression of the studied viral infections was described in five Markov models. Results: In the Netherlands, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of triplex NAT is €5.20 million per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) for testing minipools of six donation samples and €4.65 million/QALY for individual donation testing. The ICER for anti-HTLV-I/II is €45.2 million/QALY if testing all donations, €2.23 million/QALY if testing new donors only, and €27.0 million/QALY if testing blood products for pediatric patients only. The ICER of HAV NAT is €18.6 million/QALY. Conclusion: The resulting ICERs are very high, especially when compared to other health care interventions. Nevertheless, these screening tests are implemented in the Netherlands and elsewhere. Policy makers should reflect more explicit on the acceptability of costs and effects whenever additional blood screening tests are implemented.