Strategies Needed to Improve Adherence to COPD Medications, Study Says

Strategies Needed to Improve Adherence to COPD Medications, Study Says

Humana and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals have published a study showing that non-adherence to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) medications is linked to non-adherence to medications for other chronic diseases.

The study titled “Association between adherence to medications for COPD and medications for other chronic conditions in COPD patients” was published in the International Journal of COPD.

Chronic lower respiratory diseases are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. One of the most prevalent diseases in this category is COPD, which affects approximately 24 million adults in the U.S.

Although the long-term decline of lung function in COPD patients cannot be reversed by pharmacotherapy, medications are available to prevent and control symptoms, improve health status, and reduce the occurrence of COPD exacerbations.

Understanding the relationship between adherence to maintenance COPD (mCOPD) medications and adherence to medications used to treat chronic conditions other than COPD (non-COPD medications), may provide more insight into the reasons for suboptimal adherence rates for COPD medications.

Using a large claims database, the research team identified 14,117 patients with COPD, aged 40–89 years. All patients were enrolled for 12 months prior, and 24 months after, their first COPD diagnosis (index date).

To meet the study inclusion criteria, patients were required to have one or more prescriptions for a COPD medication within 365 days of the index date, and one or more prescriptions for one of 12 non-COPD medication classes within 30 days of the first prescription of a COPD medication. Adherence to medication was measured during 365 days following the first prescription of a COPD medication.

Results showed that 79.2% of study participants were non-adherent to COPD medications. Furthermore, non-adherence to mCOPD medications was associated with non-adherence to 10 of 12 non-COPD medication classes, the researchers found.

“Because people living with COPD are frequently diagnosed with another chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, we designed this new study to explore the relationship between adherence to daily medicines for these other diseases and adherence to daily maintenance medicines for COPD,” Phil Schwab, PhD, with Humana’s Comprehensive Health Insights, and study co-author, said in a press release. “The study results showed patients who are likely to be non-adherent to other medicines are also likely to be non-adherent to their COPD medicines.”

“These findings are important, because they help guide physicians on how best to support COPD patients with historically low adherence in taking their medications so they can achieve optimal health outcomes,” said Andrew Renda, MD, MPH, Bold Goal director for Humana. “Rather than focus on the number and type of co-morbidities with COPD, holistic adherence improvement efforts should address access, affordability, and most importantly, education on how these medications improve symptoms and quality of life while reducing the risk of exacerbations,” Renda said.

Given the consistency in patterns of medication adherence between COPD medications and medications for other chronic diseases, the researchers believe there may be common factors that negatively affect medication adherence in general. These factors might include lack of coordinated healthcare, or behavioral and socioeconomic characteristics of the patient population, such as low-income, forgetfulness, or low health literacy.

Therefore, “efforts to improve medication adherence should focus more generally on coordination of care, patient education, and patient cost containment.” the team concluded in the study.

“Boehringer Ingelheim is proud to partner with Humana on this important study that provides new insights into the significant challenge of treatment adherence in people living with COPD and other chronic diseases,” added Danny McBryan, MD, head of Clinical Development & Medical Affairs, Respiratory, at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals. “For over 40 years, we have had an unwavering commitment to the COPD community, and we will continue to support important research efforts that strive to provide new answers and new hope from people living with COPD.”

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