Cost-effectiveness of prion filtration of red blood cells to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the Republic of Ireland

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Journal Article
Transfusion, 2012, 52 (11), pp. 2285 - 2293
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Background: Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is a rare, progressive fatal noninflammatory neurodegenerative disease. Ireland has the second highest rate of vCJD in the world with an ongoing risk of vCJD transmission through blood transfusion. Prion-removing filters have been developed to reduce the risk of vCJD transmission. This study aimed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of implementing a policy of prion filtration of red blood cells (RBCs) in the Republic of Ireland. Study design and methods: A cost-effectiveness model was developed to simulate the likelihood of RBC recipients developing clinical vCJD as a result of being transfused with infected RBCs. Model variables were collected from published literature and expert opinion. Costs were estimated based on the processing changes required to implement prion filtration. Results: In the absence of prion filtration, it is estimated that two individuals will develop clinical vCJD arising from RBC transfusions over a 10-year time horizon. The discounted life-years lost will be 18.5 years. With prion filtration, there will be no deaths or life-years lost. The discounted cost of universal prion filtration is â68.2 million over 10 years with a corresponding incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of â3.7 million per life-year gained. In 25.3% of simulations there were no deaths from vCJD infection through infected blood transfusions, irrespective of prion filtration. Conclusion: Prion filtration is considered not cost-effective by traditional measures. Although numerous non-cost-effective blood safety strategies have been implemented in the past, consideration should be given to the most efficient use of finite resources in transfusion medicine. © 2012 American Association of Blood Banks.
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