Does co-payment for inhaler devices affect therapy adherence and disease outcomes? A historical, matched cohort study

Jaco Voorham, Bernard Vrijens, Job FM van Boven, Dermot Ryan, Dermot Ryan, Marc Miravitlles, Lisa M. Law, David B Price

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Background: Adherence to asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) treatment has been shown to depend on patient-level factors, such as disease severity, and medication-level factors, such as complexity. However, little is known about the impact of prescription charges – a factor at the health care system level. This study used real-life data to investigate whether co-payment affects adherence (implementation and persistence) and disease outcomes in patients with asthma or COPD.
Methods: A matched, historical cohort study was carried out using two UK primary care databases. The exposure was co-payment for prescriptions, which is required for most patients in England but not in Scotland. Two comparison cohorts were formed: one comprising patients registered at general practices in England and the other comprising patients registered in Scotland. Patients aged 20–59 years with asthma, or 40–59 years with COPD, who were initiated on fluticasone propionate/salmeterol xinafoate, were included, matched to patients in the opposite cohort, and followed up for 1 year following fluticasone propionate/salmeterol xinafoate initiation. The primary outcome was good adherence, defined as medication possession ratio ≥80%, and was analyzed using conditional logistic regression. Secondary outcomes included exacerbation rate.
Results: There were 1,640 patients in the payment cohort, ie, England (1,378 patients with asthma and 262 patients with COPD) and 619 patients in the no-payment cohort, ie, Scotland (512 patients with asthma and 107 patients with COPD). The proportion of patients with good adherence was 34.3% and 34.9% in the payment and no-payment cohorts, respectively, across both disease groups. In a multivariable model, no difference in odds of good adherence was found between the cohorts (odds ratio, 1.04; 95% confidence interval, 0.85–1.27). There was also no difference in exacerbation rate.
Conclusion: There was no difference in adherence between matched patients registered in England and Scotland, suggesting that prescription charges do not have an impact on adherence to treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-41
Number of pages11
JournalPragmatic and Observational Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

The authors thank Derek Skinner for data extraction, Martina
Stagno d’Alcontres and Susannah Thornhill for medical
writing, and Lakmini Bulathsinhala for performing quality
checks of statistical code and study support. This study was
funded by TEVA Europe.


  • implementation
  • adherence
  • asthma
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary statement
  • prescriptions
  • co-payment


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