Rapid Diagnosis of Tuberculosis with the Xpert MTB/RIF Assay in High Burden Countries: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

Abstract

Background: Xpert MTB/RIF (Xpert) is a promising new rapid diagnostic technology for tuberculosis (TB) that has characteristics that suggest large-scale roll-out. However, because the test is expensive, there are concerns among TB program managers and policy makers regarding its affordability for low- and middle-income settings.

Methods and Findings: We estimate the impact of the introduction of Xpert on the costs and cost-effectiveness of TB care using decision analytic modelling, comparing the introduction of Xpert to a base case of smear microscopy and clinical diagnosis in India, South Africa, and Uganda. The introduction of Xpert increases TB case finding in all three settings; from 72%–85% to 95%–99% of the cohort of individuals with suspected TB, compared to the base case. Diagnostic costs (including the costs of testing all individuals with suspected TB) also increase: from US$28–US$49 to US$133–US$146 and US$137–US$151 per TB case detected when Xpert is used “in addition to” and “as a replacement of” smear microscopy, respectively. The incremental cost effectiveness ratios (ICERs) for using Xpert “in addition to” smear microscopy, compared to the base case, range from US$41–$110 per disability adjusted life year (DALY) averted. Likewise the ICERS for using Xpert “as a replacement of” smear microscopy range from US$52–$138 per DALY averted. These ICERs are below the World Health Organization (WHO) willingness to pay threshold.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that Xpert is a cost-effective method of TB diagnosis, compared to a base case of smear microscopy and clinical diagnosis of smear-negative TB in low- and middle-income settings where, with its ability to substantially increase case finding, it has important potential for improving TB diagnosis and control. The extent of cost-effectiveness gain to TB programmes from deploying Xpert is primarily dependent on current TB diagnostic practices. Further work is required during scale-up to validate these findings.

Citation

Vassall, A.; van Kampen, S.; Sohn, H.; Michael, J.S.; John, K.R.; den Boon, S.; Davis, J.L.; Whitelaw, A.; Nicol, M.P.; Gler, M.T.; Khaliqov, A.; Zamudio, C.; Perkins, M.D.; Boehme, C.C.; Cobelens, F. Rapid Diagnosis of Tuberculosis with the Xpert MTB/RIF Assay in High Burden Countries: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis. PLoS Medicine (2012) 8 (11) e1001120. [DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001120]

Rapid Diagnosis of Tuberculosis with the Xpert MTB/RIF Assay in High Burden Countries: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

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