Improving drug therapy for patients with asthma-part 2: Use of antiasthma medications

H Herborg, B Soendergaard, T Jorgensen, L Fonnesbaek, C D Hepler, H Holst, B Froekjaer
Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association: APhA 2001, 41 (4): 551-9

OBJECTIVES: To describe the use of antiasthma drugs among the study patients and to evaluate whether therapeutic outcomes monitoring (TOM) is associated with improved quality of drug therapy.

DESIGN: Prospective, controlled, multicenter study. Consumption of antiasthma medications was measured as the number of defined daily doses (DDDs) purchased. Data were collected from the pharmacies' computer systems for a period beginning 6 months before the start of the study (period 1) and during its first and second half-years (periods 2 and 3). Treatment changes for TOM patients were classified on the basis of drug regimens at periods 1 and 3.

SETTING: Community pharmacies in Denmark (16 intervention, 15 control).

PATIENTS: Five hundred patients with asthma aged 16 to 60 years who were being treated in primary health care; this study used data from 350 patients from this sample.


MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Changes in the use of individual drugs and changes in therapeutic patterns--distribution of purchased drugs; proportion of corticosteroid users; frequency of drug regimens used; treatment changes for TOM patients.

RESULTS: TOM patients' consumption of beta2-agonists decreased by 12% overall from period 1 through period 3, while control patients' consumption of these medications decreased by only 1%. TOM patients' use of inhaled corticosteroids increased by more than 50% compared with 9% among controls. In both groups, about one-half of all purchased DDDs were for inhaled beta2-agonists. The proportion of inhaled corticosteroids increased from 27% to 42% of total DDDs for the TOM group and remained constant for controls. Of patients using beta2-agonists, 68% also used inhaled steroids initially in both the TOM and control groups. The proportion of inhaled steroid users in the TOM group increased to 84%, and to 70% among controls. The most common regimen was inhaled short-acting beta2-agonists and corticosteroids in combination, and the second most common regimen was monotherapy with short-acting beta2-agonists. With time, the regimens changed more toward consensus guidelines among TOM patients. Changes in drug therapy totaled 451, averaging 2.4 changes per TOM patient. The largest number of changes (49%) involved inhaled corticosteroids.

CONCLUSION: Changes in medication use among TOM patients were toward improved asthma treatment. Our results show that community pharmacists, physicians, and patients, working together, can improve prescribing, solve drug therapy problems, and improve outcomes for patients with moderate-to-severe asthma.

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