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New Study: Overuse of Combination Drug Therapy in Patients with Mild Asthma Leads to Increased Costs

Mon, 11/15/2010 - 7:34am
Bio-Medicine.Org

PHOENIX, Nov. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Despite national guidelines recommending that inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) be used alone as the preferred treatment for patients with mild persistent asthma, a new study finds that nearly two-thirds of these patients are taking more costly drugs that combine an ICS and a long-acting beta agonist (LABA) – with no apparent additional clinical benefit noted based on pharmacy and medical claims. The analysis was conducted by the Medco Research Institute™ -- the research subsidiary of Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) – was presented over the weekend during the Annual Scientific Meeting of The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

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"This study confirms that, based on pharmacy and medical claims, patients with mild asthma using only an inhaled corticosteroid seem to control their asthma just as well as those who take a combined ICS/LABA treatment such as Advair® or Symbicort®," said Luis Salmun, MD, the lead study researcher and National Practice Leader of the Medco Pulmonary/Immunology Therapeutic Resource Center® (TRC).  "While these combination therapies are important treatments for patients with more severe asthma, it's concerning that they are being used by a majority of patients with milder asthmatic symptoms given that these medications are more costly and that clinical guidelines prefer ICS therapy alone for these patients."  

The study evaluated 8,424 patients treated for mild asthma and found that 5,523 were on combined ICS/LABA therapy and 2,901 were using an ICS alone.  

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