Herpes zoster is a substantial societal burden that results in significant direct, indirect, and psychosocial costs, according to the findings of a recently published systematic review. 

To better understand the total burden of this pain condition, study authors sought to determine the direct (ie, medical costs) and indirect (ie loss of productivity) costs as well as the psychosocial impact (ie loss of quality of life) of herpes zoster on US adults. The review utilized a patient-level microsimulation model in order to estimate health and economic outcomes of patients (≥18 years old) over a 10-year time period. 

In their review, the study authors generated parameter values and utilized simulation modeling to analyze their outcomes. Projected outcomes of the study included the number of cases of uncomplicated herpes zoster (HZ), postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), and ocular complications, as well as losses in productivity and quality adjusted life years (QALYs). A societal perspective was utilized for outcomes. 

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“Projected outcomes for an unvaccinated population included 1.1 million HZ cases, 114,000 PHN cases, and 43,000 ocular complications annually, resulting in approximately 67,000 QALYs lost,” the study authors reported. The psychosocial impact, based on QALYs lost, was found to be higher for PHN when compared with uncomplicated HZ. As for projected costs, the study authors estimated direct medical costs and annual productivity losses associated with HZ to be $2.4 billion. 

“HZ, a vaccine-preventable illness, serves as a particularly useful model since these results can inform economic analyses for HZ vaccination,” the authors concluded.

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This article originally appeared on MPR