The aim of this study was to assess whether Xpert is likely to result in an improvement of the cost-effectiveness of TB care in low- and middle-income settings. We did this by estimating the impact of Xpert on the costs and cost-effectiveness of TB care in three countries, using decision analytic modelling, comparing the introduction of Xpert to a base case of sputum microscopy and clinical diagnosis. The model's primary outcome measure is the cost per disability adjusted life year (DALY) averted.
Our model followed a cohort of 10,000 individuals suspected of having TB through the diagnostic and treatment pathway, estimating costs and health gains. In the diagnostic pathway, the TB cases among the individuals with suspected TB were either diagnosed as having TB or not, depending on the test sensitivities in the pathway. Similarly, individuals with suspected TB who were not TB cases may have been diagnosed as having TB, depending on the pathway's test specificities. A diagnosis of TB was followed by treatment. Individuals with suspected TB completed the pathway when they were either cured, failed treatment, died, or, if they had no TB from the start, remained without TB.
Three different diagnostic scenarios are compared (). The base case is defined as two sputum microscopy examinations followed, in smear-negative individuals with suspected TB, by clinical diagnosis that might include chest X-ray and antibiotic trial 
. The inclusion of an antibiotic trial (empirical treatment with one or more broad-spectrum antibiotics to exclude other infectious causes of pulmonary disease) is no longer part of the WHO diagnostic strategy for HIV-infected patients. However, in the clinics participating in the demonstration study from which the diagnostic performance parameters were sourced 
, an antibiotic trial was still commonly provided during the diagnostic process as an adjunct to the treatment of smear-negative individuals with suspected TB. Antibiotic trial was therefore included in the base case; the model assumed that for each country the use of antibiotic trial and chest X-ray was proportional to the observed use in the demonstration study clinics. In comparison, two alternative pathways involving Xpert were considered: (1) two smear examinations, if negative followed by Xpert on a single sputum specimen (“in addition to”); (2) Xpert instead of smear examination: single sputum specimen tested by Xpert for all individuals with suspected TB (“replacement of”).
Each scenario included drug resistance testing of previously treated patients 
, either by conventional drug susceptibility testing (DST) or Xpert. All patients diagnosed with TB were treated using the standard WHO-recommended regimens. Patients awaiting DST results were started on first-line treatment (isoniazid [H], rifampicin [R], pyrazimamide [Z], and ethambutol [E] for 2 mo followed by HR for 4 mo for new patients, and HRZE for 3 mo with streptomycin added during the first 2 mo followed by HRE for 5 mo for patients with a history of previous TB treatment) and switched to second-line treatment when a DST result of rifampicin resistance became available. The second-line treatment regimens differed between the countries but commonly included a fluoroquinolone and an aminoglycoside (kanamycin, amikacin) or capreomycin in addition to one or more first-line drugs and ethionamode, cycloserine, and/or 4-aminosalicylic acid (PAS). If Xpert identified rifampicin resistance, this was confirmed by conventional DST or LPA as practice in the respective countries. LPA, used as a screening test on smear-positive sputum samples in South Africa, detects rifampicin resistance within 24 h by molecular methods. While awaiting this result, the patient was started on second-line treatment, but then switched to first-line treatment if resistance to rifampicin was not confirmed. TB cases that remained undiagnosed were assumed to return to the clinic after 3 mo, with 10% of undiagnosed cases becoming smear-positive within that time.
Key model input parameters are shown in and further details can be found in Text S1
. The model was parameterised for three settings: India (low HIV prevalence, low MDR prevalence), Uganda (high HIV prevalence, low MDR prevalence), and South Africa (high HIV prevalence, high MDR prevalence). In each cohort, TB cases were characterized as: (1) new or previously treated, (2) HIV-negative or HIV-positive, and (3) MDR or drug susceptible. These proportions were sourced from country reports 
Model inputs: cohort composition and diagnostic parameters, by country.
Diagnostic test performance data were sourced from a demonstration study of Xpert use in nine facilities 
. Sensitivity and specificity parameters for all diagnostic tests and procedures were calculated taking sputum culture as the reference standard. The sensitivity and specificity of Xpert and sputum microscopy (light-emitting diode [LED]) fluorescence microscopy) was based on weighted averages across the sites. Since clinical diagnostic practice of smear negatives in the base case varied considerably between sites, site-specific data were used to estimate performance of the clinical TB diagnosis. A patient was defined as having clinically diagnosed TB if microscopy was negative, but the onset of treatment preceded the availability of the culture result.
Estimates of the economic costs of each pathway were made from a health service perspective. All costs were estimated using the ingredient costing approach. This approach identifies all the inputs (and their quantities) required to perform a test or deliver treatment and then values them to arrive at a cost per test/person treated.
Diagnostic costs were collected at the demonstration sites. These costs included all building, overhead, staff, equipment and consumables, quality control and maintenance, and calibration inputs. The resource use associated with each test was measured through observations of practice, a review of financial reporting, and interviews with staff in the Xpert demonstration sites. Resource use measurement took into account the allocation of fixed resources between Xpert and any other uses. Estimates of device and test prices, calibration, and training costs were obtained from suppliers. Costs for treatment were estimated using drugs costs from the Global Drug Facility and the MSH International Price Tracker, and unit costs for outpatient visits and hospitalisation sourced from WHO-CHOICE 
. A review of previous costing studies was used to validate these estimates 
. As our constructed estimates were higher than those found in our review, we took the mid-point between our estimate and the lowest estimate found in the literature. All local costs were converted using the average exchange rate for 2010 (imf.statex.imf.org). Where relevant, costs were annualised using a standard discount rate of 3% 
. All costs are reported in 2010 US$. Treatment outcome probabilities were taken from published meta-analyses of clinical trials, cohort studies, and systematic reviews 
. DALYs averted from patients being cured were estimated using the standard formula 
. Further details can be found in Text S1
Since the Xpert scenarios are most likely to be more costly and more effective than the base case, an incremental cost effectiveness ratio (ICER) was calculated to describe the additional cost for any additional DALYs averted by Xpert over the base case. This ICER was then compared to WHO's suggested country-specific willingness to pay (WTP) threshold, defined as the cost per DALY averted of each country's per capita GDP (US$1,134 for India, US$5,786 for South Africa, and US$490 for Uganda in 2010). If the ICER is below this threshold the intervention is considered cost-effective.
In the demonstration study from which our parameter estimates were sourced 
, the probability that an individual with suspected TB was a true TB case varied considerably by location; the proportion with smear-positive TB being 8.9% in India, 14.3% in South Africa, and 32.4% in Uganda. This variation probably reflects the local patterns of (self-) referral, in particular for the extremely high proportion of TB cases among the individuals with suspected TB in Uganda. Therefore to enable generalizability, we assumed a 10% proportion of smear-positive TB in individuals with suspected TB for all three countries as our point estimate with a range of 2.5% to 25% in our uncertainty and sensitivity analyses 
A large number of one- and two-way sensitivity analyses were conducted to assess the robustness of our model. These analyses examine the robustness of our results when one or two parameters are varied between the outer limits of their confidence intervals. We examined the sensitivity of our results to the probability that a suspect has TB or MDR-TB or has been previously treated. We examined the impact of varying treatment costs on our results. We tested for different prices of Xpert cartridge. We examined the impact of varying the proportion of individuals with suspected TB who get chest X-ray in addition to Xpert, as physicians may continue clinical diagnosis for smear-negative TB. Similarly we examined the impact of assuming that all HIV-infected individuals with suspected TB who have negative Xpert undergo the clinical diagnosis procedure, with costs based on site-specific use of chest X-rays and antibiotics, and sensitivity and specificity based on site-specific diagnostic performance of clinical diagnosis. We assessed the sensitivity of our results to the performance of the base case in three ways: (1) assuming one instead of two smears; (2) by varying the sensitivity of smear examination; and (3) by replacing the site-specific performance estimates for clinical diagnosis with estimates averaged across the three sites. Recognising that the performance of clinical diagnosis is a trade-off between sensitivity and specificity, we varied the sensitivity and specificity in opposite directions across a plausible range of values. As physicians in the demonstration study were aware that they would receive the results of sputum culture of all individuals with suspected TB, we tested for the effect of deferring treatment decisions until the availability of culture results. For each site culture was costed and assessed on the basis of current practice. We did not include a sensitivity analysis of the use of alternatives to culture such as microscopic observation drug susceptibility test (MODS) 
, as this was not practiced on site, and we found no good source of costing data. We examined the effect of reprogramming Xpert so that no resistance result is obtained.
In addition, we conducted a probabilistic sensitivity analysis (Monte Carlo simulation) to explore the effect of uncertainty across our model parameters. This analysis randomly sampled each parameter in our model simultaneously from their probability distribution (; Text S1
), and repeated this 10,000 times to generate confidence intervals around our estimates of incremental cost per DALY averted.
The model and the analyses were constructed using TreeAge software. Percentage ranges in the text reflect ranges across countries unless stated otherwise.
The demonstration study was endorsed by national TB programmes of participating countries and approved by nine governing institutional review boards (IRBs). The requirement to obtain individual informed consent was waived. The costing and cost-effectiveness assessments were outlined in the study protocol reviewed by the IRBs.