Asthma rescue and allergy medication use among asthmatic children with prior allergy prescriptions who initiated asthma controller therapy

Allan Luskin, Don Bukstein, Vasilisa Sazonov Kocevar, Donald D Yin
Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2005, 95 (2): 129-36

BACKGROUND: Asthma and allergic rhinitis are frequently comorbid conditions. Montelukast is effective in treating both diseases and may reduce total medication use among children with asthma and allergic rhinitis.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the differences in respiratory and allergy medication use and costs, as proxies for control, in pediatric patients with asthma and allergy who initiated asthma controller therapy.

METHODS: A 24-month, retrospective, pre-post cohort study using a pharmacy claims database of children (age < 16 years) with 2 or more consecutive asthma controller prescriptions and 1 or more allergy prescription (within 12 months before initial controller prescription). Children taking inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs) and montelukast were matched one to one based on age, days of prior allergic rhinitis therapy supply, duration of controller therapy, and propensity score. Differences in costs of rescue or acute asthma medications, prescription allergy medications, other respiratory medications, and the number of days of rescue or acute asthma medication use and allergy medication use were calculated.

RESULTS: A total of 1,236 children were matched into ICS and montelukast groups (n = 618 each). Montelukast patients had a smaller cost increase overall compared with ICS patients (combined cost for rescue or acute asthma medications, allergy medications, and other respiratory medications: $5.55 vs $12.08, P < .001). Cost increase for rescue or acute asthma medications was significantly lower in the montelukast group ($0.94 vs $3.82, P = .003). The cost increase for allergy medications ($5.29 vs $10.06, P < .001) was also significantly lower in the montelukast group. Patients taking montelukast also had fewer days of therapy with asthma rescue medication and allergy medication compared with patients taking ICSs.

CONCLUSIONS: Initiating therapy with montelukast was associated with better asthma and allergy control demonstrated via lower increase in use and costs of asthma rescue and allergy medications compared with initiating ICS therapy.

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