Depression May Compromise Treatment for Hepatitis C Virus

Depressive symptoms often missed; HCV also has negative impact on job productivity, health costs

MONDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- Symptoms of major depression in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) are often missed during routine clinical interviews, and the presence of depression hinders treatment outcomes; in addition, HCV is associated with greater absence from work, lower productivity, and higher health care costs, according to two articles published in the August issue of Hepatology.

Peter Derek Christian Leutscher, M.D., of Aarhus University Hospital in Skejby, Denmark, and colleagues found that 114 (37 percent) of 325 patients receiving peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin for treatment of HCV developed major depression during treatment, and that routine medical interviews diagnosed major depression correctly in only 32 percent of those patients. The combination drug therapy was frequently discontinued prematurely when depression emerged; impaired treatment outcomes correlated with high Major Depression Inventory scores.

Jun Su, M.D., of Bristol-Myers Squibb in Wallingford, Conn., and colleagues examined employee records on 339,456 employees of large U.S. employers for demographics, salary, use of health care, workers' compensation, and loss of work, and compared HCV-infected subjects with randomly selected individuals without HCV. They found that employees with HCV had significantly more lost work days than those without HCV, with 4.15 more days of absence. Health care costs were significantly higher in the HCV employees, with a total incremental difference of $8,352 per year.

"This real world study provides evidence that there is a substantial indirect burden of illness and describes a relationship between HCV infection, productivity, increased absenteeism, and higher health care benefit costs," Su and colleagues conclude.

Su is currently affiliated with Boehringer Ingelheim, and a co-author disclosed an affiliation with Amgen.

Abstract - Leutscher
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Abstract - Su
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