RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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Acyclovir prophylaxis in late pregnancy to prevent neonatal herpes: a cost-effectiveness analysis.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the cost-effectiveness of oral acyclovir prophylaxis in late pregnancy to the current strategy of cesarean delivery for genital herpes lesions in the prevention of neonatal herpes transmission from mothers with recurrent genital infections.

METHODS: Decision analysis was used to evaluate the clinical outcomes and direct costs of a prevention program from the health care payer's perspective. Probabilities were obtained from the literature and experts. Cost data were based on hospital costs and a cohort of herpes-infected neonates.

RESULTS: Acyclovir prophylaxis during late pregnancy followed by cesarean delivery for genital lesions at delivery in women with recurrent genital herpes requires 1818 women to follow this strategy to prevent one neonatal infection and 7.4 women to take acyclovir to prevent one outbreak of genital herpes at delivery, at a cost (above no intervention) of over $493,000 per neonatal infection prevented, $1.1 million per neonatal death or disability prevented, and $1444 per maternal outbreak prevented. Cesarean delivery for genital herpes lesions requires 386 women with recurrent herpes to undergo cesareans to prevent one neonatal infection, at a cost of more than $1.3 million per neonatal infection prevented and more than $3 million per neonatal death or disability prevented. If acyclovir is given and herpes lesions still occur, the incremental cost of requiring cesarean delivery for these women over vaginal delivery with culture and follow-up of exposed infants is more than $1.4 million per neonatal infection prevented.

CONCLUSION: Oral acyclovir prophylaxis in late pregnancy for women with recurrent genital herpes is more cost-effective than the current strategy of cesarean delivery for all women presenting with genital herpes lesions.

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