Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic systemic inflammatory disorder which imposes considerable negative impact on patients' function and quality of life, and it appears to entail substantial loss of work productivity and healthcare cost. Although much has been studied regarding the epidemiology, pathogenesis, disease activity, disease damage and pharmacological treatment of SLE, publications on the economic burden of lupus are scarce. As the majority of lupus patients are residing in the Asia Pacific region where many are financially and socially deprived, and, from what we know from the current literature, work disability of lupus patients in Asia is substantial, cost-of-illness studies on SLE are thus particularly relevant in countries around the region. Reliable data from properly conducted prospective SLE cost studies are imperative for policymakers to efficiently distribute healthcare resources, especially in Asia where limited resources are unable to cope with the huge population. In this paper, we review the current state of cost-of-illness research on lupus in Asia and analyze the reasons why such studies are urgently required in the Asia Pacific region.
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