The impact of nonadherence to inhaled long-acting β - adrenoceptor agonist/corticosteroid combination therapy on healthcare costs in difficult-to-control asthma

C. O'Neill, Jacqui Gamble, J.T. Lindsay, L.G. Heaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Asthma is a leading, preventable cause of morbidity, mortality and cost. A disproportionate amount of the cost is generated by the 5-10%of patients with difficult-to-control asthma, who are prescribed treatment at step 4/5 of the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) guidelines. We have previously demonstrated a high prevalence of nonadherence to inhaled combination therapy (i.e. long-acting ß -adrenoceptor agonist [ß - agonist] and corticosteroid) in this population. The aim of this study was to examine the costs of healthcare utilization in a nonadherent group of patients with difficult-to-control asthma compared with adherent subjects. We also wished to examine potential savings if nonadherence to inhaled combination therapy could be addressed. All costs were measured from the perspective of a publicly funded health service Methods: Adherence was determined through examination of patient prescription refill behaviour and validated with a medical concordance interview. Data on healthcare use were collected from a patient survey and hospital records that included prescribed medicines, hospital admissions, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and other unscheduled healthcare visits associated with asthma care. Activity was monetized using standard UK references and between-group comparisons based on a series of univariate and multivariate regression analyses. Results: Cost differences were identified for inhaled combination therapy, nebulizer, short acting b2-agonists and hospital costs excluding and including ICU admissions between adherent and nonadherent subjects. Compared with a group who have refractory asthma and who are adherent with medication, additional healthcare costs in nonadherent subjects are offset by the reduction in costs associated with reduced medication utilization. However, if nonadherence can be successfully targeted and hospital admissions avoided in this population, there is a potential $475 ($843-$368) saving per patient, per annum. Conclusion: Nonadherence is an important cause of difficult-to-control asthma. A uniform cost for subjects with difficult-to-control disease can be applied to economic analyses, independent of adherence, as increased healthcare utilization costs are offset by the reduced medication cost due to poor adherence. However, there are substantial potential savings in subjects with difficult-to-control asthma, who are nonadherent to inhaled combination therapy, if cost effective strategies for nonadherence are developed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-385
Number of pages7
JournalPharmaceutical Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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