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Characterizing patients with asthma who received Global Initiative for Asthma steps 4‐5 therapy and managed in a specialty care setting

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Severe asthma is recognized in the European Respiratory Society/American Thoracic Society guidelines as a major unmet need in the management of asthma.


The study objective was to describe the clinical burden of Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) steps 4‐5 asthma for patients treated by specialists in the U.S. community setting.


Patients, ages ≥12 years, with asthma who received GINA step 4 or 5 treatment and were treated at a large U.S. allergy practice network between January 1, 2010, and April 30, 2016, were retrospectively identified by using electronic health records. Clinical outcomes included lung function (forced expiratory volume in one second of expiration [FEV1] and FEV1% predicted), symptom control (Asthma Control Test [ACT]), the fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) value (FeNO ≥25 ppb indicates airway inflammation), and asthma medication use. The change in outcomes from baseline to 12 and 24 months after the index date was calculated.


Of 120,116 patients with asthma, 12,922 (10.8%) had severe asthma, 68% (n = 8751) while on step 4 therapy. The mean baseline prebronchodilation FEV1% predicted was 79.7%, and the mean baseline ACT score was 17.0. With uncontrolled asthma defined as an ACT score of ≤19 and/or an FEV1 value of <80% predicted and/or oral corticosteroid use of ≥2 bursts, 52.5% and 57.7% of patients on step 4 and step 5 therapy, respectively, had uncontrolled asthma at baseline. Of a subset of patients, 40.9% had an eosinophil count of ≥300 cells/mm3 and 44% had an FeNO concentration of ≥25 ppb. Small increases in the FEV1 value were observed from baseline to 12 months (n = 4022) and 24 months (n = 2326) postindex (0.07 and 0.04 L, respectively).


A considerable proportion of patients had uncontrolled asthma while on current GINA steps 4‐5 treatment, which indicated that additional therapies may be required to reduce the clinical burden of severe asthma.
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Keywords: ACT; GINA step 4 or 5 asthma therapy; Severe asthma; allergy practice network; eosinophils; lung function; uncontrolled asthma

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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 and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    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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