The Canadian Pain Society (CPS) hosted its first Study Day in Toronto in July 2014, attended by experts in various fields of pain management and research (listed below). The aim was to review the National Advisory Committee on Immunization guidelines and to prepare a CPS position statement concerning the use of the zoster vaccine in Canada.
Herpes zoster (HZ) is a common disease among elderly, which may develop into a severe pain syndrome labeled postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). A live-attenuated varicella zoster virus vaccine has been shown to be effective in reducing the incidence and burden of illness of HZ and PHN, providing the opportunity to prevent significant health-related and financial consequences of HZ. In this review, we summarize the available literature on cost-effectiveness of HZ vaccination and discuss critical parameters for cost-effectiveness results. A search in PubMed and EMBASE was performed to identify full cost-effectiveness studies published before April 2013. Fourteen cost-effectiveness studies were included, all performed in western countries. All studies evaluated cost-effectiveness among elderly above 50 years and used costs per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained as primary outcome. The vast majority of studies showed vaccination of 60- to 75-year-old individuals to be cost-effective, when duration of vaccine efficacy was longer than 10 years. Duration of vaccine efficacy, vaccine price, HZ incidence, HZ incidence and discount rates were influential to the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER). HZ vaccination may be a worthwhile intervention from a cost-effectiveness point of view. More extensive reporting on methodology and more detailed results of sensitivity analyses would be desirable to address uncertainty and to guarantee optimal comparability between studies, for example regarding model structure, discounting, vaccine characteristics and loss of quality of life due to HZ and PHN.
Herpes zoster (HZ) is a viral disease characterized by a dermatologic and neurologic involvement caused by the reactivation of the latent varicellazoster virus (VZV) acquired during primary infection (varicella). HZ incidence increases with age and is related to waning specific cell-mediated immunity (CMI). The most frequent complication of HZ is post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) characterized by chronic pain lasting at least 30 days, with impact on patients' quality of life. Available treatments are quite unsatisfactory in reducing pain and length of the disease. The evaluation of the epidemiology, the debilitating complications (PHN), the suboptimal available treatments and the costs related to the diagnosis and clinical/therapeutic management of HZ patients have been the rationale for the search of an adequate preventive measure against this disease. The target of this intervention is to reduce the frequency and severity of HZ and related complications by stimulating CMI. Prevention has recently become possible with the live attenuated vaccine Oka/Merck, with an antigen content at least 10-fold higher than the antigen content of pediatric varicella vaccines. Clinical studies show a good level of efficacy and effectiveness, particularly against the burden of illness and PHN in all age classes. Accordingly to the summary of the characteristics of the product the zoster vaccine is indicated for the prevention of HZ and PHN in individuals 50 years of age or older and is effective and safe in subjects with a positive history of HZ.