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New Study: Overuse of Combination Drug Therapy in Patients with Mild Asthma Leads to Increased Costs
Date:11/15/2010

Among the two groups of patients there was no significant difference in their use of acute asthma medications, emergency room visits or hospitalizations, indicating that there was no apparent additional clinical benefit gained from using the combined therapy compared to ICS monotherapy.  However, the study did find a difference in costs:  the average asthma-related health care costs for those using the combination ICS/LABA therapy were $264 higher per patient per year than those using the ICS treatment alone.  The study included all combination ICS/LABA drugs, confirming that this is a class effect rather than attributed to a single product.

Findings also revealed that the rate of ICS/LABA combination therapy was highest among patients ages 18 to 49.

In 2010, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) updated the label on long-acting beta agonists to specify that they should not be used in patients with well-controlled asthma. In patients where a LABA is necessary, once asthma control is achieved and maintained, patients should begin step-down therapy that eliminates the use of long-acting beta agonist while continuing on their ICS treatment.  Lastly, it states that long-acting beta agonists should only be used as additional therapy for patients with uncontrolled asthma currently taking an ICS.

Mild Persistent Asthma

Asthma severity can be classified into one of the following four categories:  intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent or severe persistent. Characteristics of a patient classified with mild persistent asthma in this study are:

  • Claims-confirmed diagnosis of asthma and lack of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) diagnosis
  • In the previous 12 months:
    • Sporadic use of reliever medications (less than 4 canisters)
    • No exacerbation requiring hospital or ER visits
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SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
Copyright©2010 PR Newswire.
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