ACAAI: Drug Combo Tied to Higher Costs in Mild Asthma

But inhaled corticosteroid plus long-acting beta agonist not linked to clinical benefit

MONDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with mild asthma, the combined use of an inhaled corticosteroid and long-acting beta agonist (ICS/LABA) -- which is prevalent -- is associated with higher costs and no clinical benefit, according to a study presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, held from Nov. 11 to 16 in Phoenix.

R. Tom Manley, of Medco Health Solutions in Liberty Lake, Wash., and colleagues compared medical and pharmacy costs and clinical outcomes of 27,336 mild asthma patients taking either single-entity ICS therapy or ICS/LABA combination therapy.

While asthma-related medical costs, number of oral steroid claims per patient, and time to pulmonary-related emergency department visit or hospitalization were similar between those taking ICS therapy alone and those taking ICS/LABA combination therapy, the investigators found that treatment with ICS/LABA combination therapy was associated with significantly higher asthma-related drug costs ($1,173.27 versus $981.65). In addition, total asthma-related health care costs in the ICS/LABA group were $1,612.26 compared to $1,376.84 in the ICS therapy group. Family practice and primary care physicians were the most likely to prescribe ICS/LABA combination in mild asthma patients, while pediatricians were the least likely.

"Findings confirm that ICS/LABA combination use is prevalent in mild asthma patients and is associated with increased asthma-related pharmacy and total health care costs with no observed clinical benefit," the authors write.

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