Induction-phase treatment costs for cryptococcal meningitis in high HIV-burden African countries: New opportunities with lower costs

Bruce Larson, Amir Shroufi, Charles Muthoga, Rita Oladele, Radha Rajasingham, Alexander Jordan, Joseph N. Jarvis, Tom M. Chiller, Nelesh P. Govender

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Access to and the cost of induction treatment for cryptococcal meningitis (CM) is rapidly changing. The newly-announced price for flucytosine (0.75 per 500 mg pill) and possibly lower prices for liposomal amphotericin B (AmB-L) create opportunities to reduce CM treatment costs compared to the current standard treatment in low- and middle-income countries. Methods: We developed an Excel-based cost model to estimate health system treatment costs for CM over a two-week induction phase for multiple treatment combinations, newly feasible with improved access to flucytosine and AmB-L. CM treatment costs include medications, laboratory tests and other hospital-based costs (bed-day costs and healthcare worker time). We report results from applying the model using country-specific information for South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, and Botswana. Results: A 14-day induction-phase of seven days of inpatient AmB-D with flucytosine, followed by seven days of high-dose fluconazole as an outpatient, will cost health systems less than a 14-day hospital stay with AmB-D and fluconazole. If daily AmB-L replaces AmB-D for those with baseline renal dysfunction, with a cost of 50 or less per 50 mg vial, incremental costs would still be less than the AmB-D with fluconazole regimen. Simple oral combinations (e.g., seven days of flucytosine with fluconazole as an inpatient) are practical when AmB-D is not available, and treatment costs would remain less than the current standard treatment. Conclusions: Improved access to, and lower prices for flucytosine and AmB-L create opportunities for improving CM treatment regimens. An induction regimen of flucytosine and AmB-D for seven days is less costly than standard care in the settings studied here. As this regimen has also been shown to be more effective than current standard care, countries should prioritize scaling up flucytosine access. The cost of AmB-L based regimens is highly dependent on the price of AmB-L, which currently remains unclear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number140
JournalWellcome Open Research
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Larson B et al.


  • Amphotericin B deoxycholate
  • Botswana
  • Cryptococcal meningitis
  • Fluconazole
  • Flucytosine
  • Induction phase
  • Liposomal amphotericin B
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Uganda


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