Sicker COPD patients may be more likely to initiate arformoterol



Among Medicare patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), those who had at least one exacerbation and had a COPD-related hospitalization were most likely to receive nebulized arformoterol, according to study to identify predictors of its use. In addition to being sicker, being treated by a pulmonologist rather than a primary care physician and being white were factors that increased a patient’s likelihood of receiving nebulized arformoterol.

A notepad that says, "Diagnosis COPD" designer491/Thinkstock

Patients less likely to receive the nebulized version of this long-acting beta2 adrenoreceptor agonist (LABA) were African Americans, patients with psychiatric comorbidities, and patients eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.

“Studies have shown that 40% to 71% of Medicare beneficiaries receive no maintenance treatment for COPD. Although a recent longitudinal study on Medicare populations reported that use of maintenance medications has been improving, in general, it is recognized that Medicare beneficiaries with COPD remain undertreated,” Todd P. Gilmer, PhD, from the department of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues wrote.

The investigators identified patients with COPD using Medicare administrative data; of these patients, 11,887 were arformoterol users, and 450,178 were control patients who did not use arformoterol. Patients were included in the study if they had at least one claim for COPD medication and were continuously enrolled in Medicare Parts A, B, and D. The cohort consisted of mostly white women aged 70 years or older, and 47% were dual-eligible to receive both Medicare and Medicaid benefits. A subgroup of 1,778 arformoterol users were also identified for analysis who were hospitalized and discharged within 30 days of using arformoterol, as well as a subgroup of 21,910 control patients with hospitalizations.

The researchers found COPD-related hospitalization (odds ratio, 1.31; 95% confidence interval, 1.24-1.39; P less than .001), exacerbation (OR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.26-1.41; P less than .001), use of a systemic corticosteroid (OR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.43-1.57; P less than .001) or methylxanthine (OR, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.28-1.47; P less than .001), use of oxygen therapy (OR, 2.01; 95% CI, 1.93-2.09; P less than .001), pulmonologist care (OR, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.34-1.46; P less than .001), and respiratory therapist care (OR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.11-1.36; P less than .001) strongly predicted arformoterol use, while racial/ethnic minority status, psychiatric comorbidity (OR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.56-0.76; P less than .001), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (OR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.52-0.94; P less than .01), and dual-eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid (OR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.70-0.77; P less than .001) lowered the odds of arformoterol use (P less than .001). In the subgroup of patients with hospitalizations, COPD-related admission (OR, 1.83; 95% CI, 1.55-2.14; P less than .001), exacerbation (OR, 2.62; 95% CI, 1.88-3.63; P less than .001)m and inpatient care from a pulmonologist (OR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.58-2.01; P less than .001) predicted arformoterol use.

“Given the results of this study, increasing access to nebulized maintenance therapy is warranted for select populations with COPD including racial/ethnic minorities, the dual-eligible, and those with certain comorbidities, such as psychiatric disorders,” Dr. Gilmer and colleagues wrote in their study. “Future studies are needed to explore the optimal time to initiate nebulized maintenance therapy, and the potential differential impact of early versus late initiation on patient outcomes.”

Researchers noted that, although their results may seem initially counterintuitive given that COPD has a higher prevalence in men, 56% of the beneficiaries in their Medicare data were women who were 65 years or older, and the results are consistent with other studies that show similar gender distribution findings for maintenance treatment patterns among COPD patients receiving Medicare.

“Since most Medicare beneficiaries with COPD are older than 70 years of age, the higher percentage of women than men in our two cohorts can be explained by the age distributions that ensued as a result of applying our various inclusion and exclusion criteria,” they said.

This study was funded by Sunovian. Dr. Gilmer and one coauthor are paid employees of University of California San Diego, which receives research funding from Advance Health Solutions. Another coauthor is an advisory board member for Advance Health Solutions and a consultant for GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Astra Zeneca, Novartis, and Pulmonix. Two other coauthors are paid employees of Advance Health Solutions, and another is a paid employee of Sunovion.

SOURCE: Gilmer TP et al. COPD. 2019 Jun 19. doi: 10.1080/15412555.2019.1618256.

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