Background: Taiwan’s Bureau of National Health Insurance launched the National Antiviral Treatment Program (NATP) in 2003 to reimburse patients for antiviral drugs and interferons for chronic hepatitis B and C. The objective was to examine the impact of the NATP on the incidence and mortality due to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Methods: The cumulative numbers of NATP participants were retrieved from the National Health Insurance claims database. The national incidence and mortality rates of HCC were obtained from the Taiwan Cancer Registry in each quarter from 1979 to 2009. An interrupted time-series analysis was applied to test the temporal trend change before and after NATP.
Results: From 1979 to 1995, the HCC incidence increased in men and women of all age groups. From 2003 to 2009, 31,155 men and 10,769 women received anti–hepatitis B virus therapy, whereas 13,939 men and 10,721 women received anti–hepatitis C virus therapy. The incidence of HCC reached a plateau and then started to decline in men aged 30–39 (slope change P=0.003), 50–59 (P=0.051), and 60–69 years (P<0.001). A similar trend was noted in women aged 50–59 (P=0.035), 60–69 (P=0.006), and 70–79 years (P=0.052). The HCC mortality rate had been decreasing since 1996 and a further decline was observed after 2004 in men aged 60–69 years and women aged 60–79 years.
Conclusions: There is a strong temporal relationship between NATP and the stabilization of the HCC incidence and related mortality. The cost-effectiveness of the NATP needs further evaluation.