Conference Coverage

Refill disruptions for inhaled corticosteroids may mean more exacerbations


Interruptions of patients’ refills for combination inhaled corticosteroid medication caused by the Medicare Part D formulary switch may have resulted in increased exacerbations and hospitalizations, according to a study that will be presented at the CHEST 2018 annual meeting.

Katie Devane, PhD, and her colleagues examined pharmacy records of 44,832 patients aged 12 years and older who had received a combination inhaled corticosteroid (budesonide/formoterol) and a long-acting beta-agonist medication in 2016-2017. They were followed to track their refills, medication switches, and use of other medications such as oral corticosteroids, antibiotics, and rescue inhalers.

After the Medicare Part D formulary switch on Jan. 1, 2017, many of these patients experienced disruption of their refills. About half of the patients attempted to get a refill of their inhaled corticosteroid prescription but only 46% were approved. One-third of the patients studied did not replace their medication, 12% switched to monotherapy, and 17% had no inhaled medication, the study found.

The investigators concluded that the formulary block resulted in many patients going without optimal medication and potentially led to more exacerbations and ER visits.

View the study abstract here:

The study will be presented in the session Improving Care in COPD, Monday, Oct. 8, 2:15 p.m., Convention Center Room 207A.

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