To create a mathematical model to investigate the treatment impact and economic implications of introducing an antimicrobial resistance point-of-care test (AMR POCT) for gonorrhoea as a way of extending the life of current last-line treatments.
Incremental impact of introducing a hypothetical AMR POCT that could detect susceptibility to previous first-line antibiotics, for example, ciprofloxacin or penicillin, so that patients are given more tailored treatment, compared with the current situation where all patients are given therapy with ceftriaxone and azithromycin. The hypothetical intervention was assessed using a mathematical model developed in Excel. The model included initial and follow-up attendances, loss to follow-up, use of standard or tailored treatment, time taken to treatment and the costs of testing and treatment.
Number of doses of ceftriaxone saved, mean time to most appropriate treatment, mean number of visits per (infected) patient, number of patients lost to follow-up and total cost of testing.
In the current situation, an estimated 33 431 ceftriaxone treatments are administered annually and 792 gonococcal infections remain untreated due to loss to follow-up. The use of an AMR POCT for ciprofloxacin could reduce these ceftriaxone treatments by 66%, and for an AMR POCT for penicillin by 79%. The mean time for patients receiving an antibiotic treatment is reduced by 2 days in scenarios including POCT and no positive patients remain untreated through eliminating loss to follow-up. Such POCTs are estimated to add £34 million to testing costs, but this does not take into account reductions in costs of repeat attendances and the reuse of older, cheaper antimicrobials.
The introduction of AMR POCT could allow clinicians to discern between the majority of gonorrhoea-positive patients with strains that could be treated with older, previously abandoned first-line treatments, and those requiring our current last-line dual therapy. Such tests could extend the useful life of dual ceftriaxone and azithromycin therapy, thus pushing back the time when gonorrhoea may become untreatable.