Respiratory pharmacotherapy use in patients newly diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in a primary care setting in the UK: a retrospective cohort study

Keele E Wurst, Amit Shukla, Hana Muellerova, Kourtney J Davis
COPD 2014, 11 (5): 521-30
This retrospective cohort study aimed to analyze the prescribing practices of general practitioners treating patients with newly diagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and to assess characteristics associated with initial pharmacotherapy. Patients were identified in the General Practice Research Database, a population-based UK electronic medical record (EMR) with data from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2009. Patient characteristics, prescribed COPD pharmacotherapies (≤12 months before diagnosis and within 3 months following diagnosis), co-morbidities, hospitalizations, and events indicative of a possible COPD exacerbation (≤12 months before diagnosis) were analyzed in 7881 patients with newly diagnosed COPD. Most patients (64.4%) were prescribed COPD pharmacotherapy in the 12 months before diagnosis. Following diagnosis, COPD pharmacotherapy was prescribed within 3 months in 85.0% of patients. Short-acting bronchodilators alone (22.9%) or inhaled corticosteroids + long-acting beta-2 agonists (ICS+LABA, 22.1%) were prescribed most frequently. Compared with other pharmacotherapies, the prevalence of severe airflow limitation was highest in patients prescribed ICS+LABA+long-acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMA). Moderate-to-severe dyspnea was identified most frequently in patients prescribed a LAMA-containing regimen. Patients prescribed an ICS-containing regimen had a higher prevalence of asthma or possible exacerbations recorded in the EMR than those not prescribed ICS. In conclusion, pharmacotherapy prescribed at initial COPD diagnosis varied by disease severity indicators as assessed by airflow limitation, dyspnea, history of asthma, and possible exacerbations. Frequent prescription of COPD pharmacotherapies before the first-recorded COPD diagnosis indicates a delay between obstructive lung disease presentation in primary care practice and assignment of a medical diagnosis.

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