A new study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic reports health and economical outcomes of reduction in asthma medication in stable asthma patients. The research paper, entitled “Comparative safety and costs of stepping down asthma medications in patients with controlled asthma,” was recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The results of the study could aid in helping public healthcare organizations control asthma treatment costs while still managing positive patient outcomes.
The reduction of asthma medicine use is common practice since, in addition to the obvious attempt of physicians to prescribe the least amount of medications to effectively treat patients and avoid potential side effects, drug-based asthma therapy also entails significant costs. In light of the limited information regarding outcomes from medicine reduction, researchers led by allergy and immunology specialist Matthew Rank, MD, at the Mayo Clinic set-out to investigate the safety and economical outcome of such a decision.
The research team selected 4,235 eligible persistent asthma patients with stable asthma symptoms for at least a year, and divided them into one group maintaining a prescribed daily asthma medication treatment and another with reduced asthma treatment. Researchers concluded from analysis of clinical results in both study groups that gradually reducing medication for asthma in patients with controlled symptoms was as clinically safe as maintaining treatment. Researchers report that only about 11% of patients stepping down the use of prescribed therapies had asthma-related problems. Regarding financial costs, the average monthly savings in asthma-related treatments was $34 when compared to patients who maintained their medication treatment, without any additional costs related to asthma treatments such as hospitalization. Furthermore, stopping the treatment did not yield negative effects in other aspects of patients’ lives, such as school or work absence.
“This study is important because many people with asthma may be able to safely reduce their asthma medicines with the appropriate guidance from their health care teams,” Dr. Rank said. “Many patients try to step down on their own, but we encourage patients to work with their doctors before doing so.”