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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Cost-effectiveness of human papillomavirus vaccination for prevention of cervical cancer in Taiwan

Pang-Hsiang Liu12, Fu-Chang Hu1, Ping-Ing Lee3, Song-Nan Chow4, Chao-Wan Huang1 and Jung-Der Wang125*

Author Affiliations

1 National Clinical Trial and Research Center, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

2 Institute of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

3 Department of Pediatrics, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

4 Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, National Taiwan University Hospital and College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

5 Departments of Internal Medicine and Environmental and Occupational Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

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BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:11  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-11

Published: 11 January 2010

Abstract

Background

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has been shown to be a major risk factor for cervical cancer. Vaccines against HPV-16 and HPV-18 are highly effective in preventing type-specific HPV infections and related cervical lesions. There is, however, limited data available describing the health and economic impacts of HPV vaccination in Taiwan. The objective of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of prophylactic HPV vaccination for the prevention of cervical cancer in Taiwan.

Methods

We developed a Markov model to compare the health and economic outcomes of vaccinating preadolescent girls (at the age of 12 years) for the prevention of cervical cancer with current practice, including cervical cytological screening. Data were synthesized from published papers or reports, and whenever possible, those specific to Taiwan were used. Sensitivity analyses were performed to account for important uncertainties and different vaccination scenarios.

Results

Under the assumption that the HPV vaccine could provide lifelong protection, the massive vaccination among preadolescent girls in Taiwan would lead to reduction in 73.3% of the total incident cervical cancer cases and would result in a life expectancy gain of 4.9 days or 8.7 quality-adjusted life days at a cost of US$324 as compared to the current practice. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) was US$23,939 per life year gained or US$13,674 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained given the discount rate of 3%. Sensitivity analyses showed that this ICER would remain below US$30,000 per QALY under most conditions, even when vaccine efficacy was suboptimal or when vaccine-induced immunity required booster shots every 13 years.

Conclusions

Although gains in life expectancy may be modest at the individual level, the results indicate that prophylactic HPV vaccination of preadolescent girls in Taiwan would result in substantial population benefits with a favorable cost-effectiveness ratio. Nevertheless, we should not overlook the urgency to improve the compliance rate of cervical screening, particularly for older individuals.