AAAAI Annual Meeting Study Shows No Decline in Asthma Exacerbations

MIAMI — New data presented at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) show that despite numerous treatment options for asthma, patients experience emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations or attacks at a rate that has not declined substantially over time. Additionally, the data found that asthma patients who have experienced an asthma attack are twice as likely to experience additional exacerbations as other patients.

"Despite the numerous asthma treatments available in the United States to treat adults with asthma, and the emergence of new therapies, the disease is still poorly controlled. In many cases, this may be due to the lack of physician and patient compliance to therapy despite asthma exacerbations," said Richard O'Connor, MD, director, Department of Quality Management, Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical group, lead author of the study. "The findings provide evidence of the need for new ways to help patients and physicians optimize their disease management, including new medications that help control the everyday symptoms of asthma."

The study, supported by AstraZeneca, reviewed an administrative claims database in a managed care setting that included case records for 3,998 patients (65 percent female; mean age of 41 years) with an asthma diagnosis and two or more claims per year for asthma medication over a four-year period. Exacerbation rates of patients who had an exacerbation during year one of the study were compared with patients who were exacerbation-free in the first year of the study to determine the likelihood of an event during the remainder of the study period. Researchers found that patients who had exacerbations during the first year of the study were more likely to have a subsequent exacerbation than those who did not.

The study found that during the four-year period (June 2000-May 2004), exacerbation rates did not decline substantially. Specifically:

  • During the study period, 41 percent of patients had at least one asthma exacerbation.
  • Of these patients, 30 percent were not taking daily asthma maintenance medication before the exacerbation. Once resolved, 24 percent of patients were still not on maintenance therapy, which may explain the incidence of recurrence.
  • Patients who had an exacerbation in year one of the study were about twice as likely to have another exacerbation at some point in the remainder of the study, as compared to those patients who were exacerbation-free in year one (58 percent vs. 30 percent).
  • Among the 3,998 patients studied, 17.9 percent had at least one exacerbation in the first year of the study period; 16.2 percent in the second year; 14.6 percent in the third year; and 14.8 percent in the final year.

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This article originally appeared in the March 2006 issue of HME Business.

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