Objective: To describe patient characteristics, treatment patterns and healthcare utilization (HCU) of non-active users of maintenance asthma medications in the United Kingdom.Methods: Retrospective, cohort analysis of patients with asthma, aged ≥ 6 years who were non-active users of maintenance therapy (no prescription for inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), combined ICS/long-acting beta agonists (ICS/LABA) or 'other' bronchodilatory therapies in last 12 months) were identified in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (2012-2015) and followed-up for 2 years after a new prescription for an asthma maintenance medication (index date). Patient characteristics, most common maintenance treatment sequences and HCU were described.Results: 55,293 patients were identified (ICS: 46,297, ICS/LABA: 8,367; Other: 629). Mean age was 37 years and 56% were female. During follow-up, the most common treatment sequences across groups implied intermittent use, comprising periods of maintenance therapy interspersed with maintenance-free periods. During year 1 and year 2 of follow-up, the proportion of patients prescribed OCS was 19% and 13%, prescribed ≥ 4 short-acting bronchodilators (SABD) was 24% and 19%, having ≥ 3 asthma-related primary care consultations/year was 59% and 36% and experiencing ≥ 1 exacerbation/year was 15% and 11%, respectively.Conclusions: In previously non-active users of asthma maintenance medication subsequently commenced on maintenance therapy, intermittent use was common during the 2-year follow-up despite the potential need for regular use as evidenced by patient HCU and SABD usage patterns. This highlights the need for regular patient assessment and education on medication adherence to ensure appropriateness of prescribing to maintain asthma control.
Bibliographical noteThe authors are also grateful to Dr Michael Gibbs for providing a review of an early draft of this manuscript.
Editorial support was provided by Kate Hollingworth of Continuous Improvement Ltd and funded by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). This study was funded by GSK. DCG, BA, JFB, and MF are employees of GSK and hold GSK shares.
- primary care