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Pharmacoeconomic review of medical management of persistent asthma

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Asthma affects 20 million Americans and causes a substantial loss of productivity. Medications help to increase symptom-free days and improve quality of life. Examining the cost-effectiveness of different treatments, in addition to their clinical efficacy, allows us to choose the optimal strategy in managing patients. This study reviews published pharmacoeconomic analyses of different medications used for asthma management, with a focus on medications available in the United States. English language, peer-reviewed articles, or abstracts were identified from MEDLINE and Current Contents databases (both 1966 to March 1, 2006) using the search terms asthma, pharmacoeconomics, cost-effectiveness, steroids, beta2-agonists, cromolyn, methylxanthines, leukotriene receptor antagonists, and omalizumab. Citations from available articles were reviewed also for additional references. Pharmacoeconomic analysis from a payer's perspective has shown that salmeterol/fluticasone is a cost-effective treatment option for moderate persistent asthma management, when compared with fluticasone with or without the addition of leukotriene modifiers. Leukotriene modifiers are less cost-effective than inhaled corticosteroids or combined inhaled steroids and long-acting beta2-agonists for mild or moderate persistent asthma. Anti-IgE antibody has been shown inconsistently, to be cost-effective in patients with moderate to severe allergic asthma. Although the acquisition cost of levalbuterol is higher, one study showed that it may be more cost-effective than albuterol after taking into account reduction in hospitalizations. Cost-effectiveness analyses and clinical efficacy of medications, together with other patient-specific factors, are important information to be considered when selecting treatment regimens for asthma. Future economic analysis should focus on finding better ways to evaluate productivity lost due to asthma, in addition to hospitalization.

Keywords: Anti-IgE antibodies; asthma; beta-agonists; corticosteroids; cost-effectiveness; leukotriene receptor antagonists; long-acting beta-agonists; pharmacoeconomics

Document Type: Review Article


Affiliations: Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Boston, Massachusetts; Department of Pharmacy, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

Publication date: March 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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