Prescribing of long-acting beta-2-agonists/inhaled corticosteroids after the SMART trial
After the SMART trial evaluating the safety of salmeterol (long-acting beta-2-agonist (LABA)) in asthma patients, regulatory actions were taken to promote a guideline-adherent prescribing of LABA only to patients receiving inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). We aim to analyse LABA- and ICS-related prescription patterns after the SMART trial in Germany.
Patients documented in the Bavarian Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians database (approximately 10.5 million people) were included if they had a diagnosis of asthma and at least one prescription of LABA and/or ICS between 2004 and 2008. Annual period prevalence rates (PPRs) were estimated and Cochrane Armitage tests were used for time trend analyses.
Highest annual PPRs were found for budesonide and the fixed combination of salmeterol/fluticasone. The proportion of “concomitant LABA and ICS users” increased from 52.0 to 57.6% within the study period, whereas for “LABA users without ICS” a slight decrease from 6.5 to 5.4% was found. In 2008, the proportion of patients with at least one quarter with a LABA prescription without concomitant ICS was highest in elderly, male patients (?20%). In the majority of these patients, a concomitant diagnosis of COPD (i.e. asthma-COPD overlap syndrome [ACOS]) was present.
Between 2004 and 2008, we found a moderate increase in guideline-adherent LABA prescribing in a representative German population. Elderly men received a significant number of LABA prescriptions without concomitant ICS probably due to ACOS.