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Primary Adherence to Controller Medications for Asthma is Poor

Few previous studies have evaluated primary adherence (whether a new prescription is filled within 30 d) to controller medications in individuals with persistent asthma. To compare adherence to the major controller medication regimens for asthma. This was a retrospective cohort study of enrollees from five large health plans. We used electronic medical data on patients of all ages with asthma who had experienced an asthma-related exacerbation in the prior 12 months. We studied adherence measures including proportion of days covered and primary adherence (first prescription filled within 30 d). Our population included 69,652 subjects who had probable persistent asthma and were prescribed inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs), leukotriene antagonists (LTRAs), or ICS/long-acting ?-agonists (ICS/LABAs). The mean age was 37 years and 58% were female. We found that 14-20% of subjects who were prescribed controller medicines for the first time did not fill their prescriptions. The mean proportion of days covered was 19% for ICS, 30% for LTRA, and 25% for ICS/LABA over 12 months. Using multivariate logistic regression, subjects prescribed LTRA were less likely to be primary adherent than subjects prescribed ICS (odds ratio, 0.82; 95% confidence interval, 0.74-0.92) or ICS/LABA (odds ratio, 0.88; 95% confidence interval, 0.80-0.97). Black and Latino patients were less likely to fill the prescription compared with white patients. Adherence to controller medications for asthma is poor. In this insured population, primary adherence to ICSs was better than to LTRAs and ICS/LABAs. Adherence as measured by proportion of days covered was better for LTRAs and ICS/LABAs than for ICSs.

Authors: Wu AC; Butler MG; Li L; Fung V; Kharbanda EO; Larkin EK; Vollmer WM; Miroshnik I; Davis RL; Lieu TA; Soumerai SB

Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2015 Feb;12(2):161-6.

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