Economic Assessment of Adjustable Maintenance Treatment with Budesonide/Formoterol in a Single Inhaler versus Fixed Treatment in Asthma
Stefan N Willich
Objectives: To compare the costs and effectiveness of adjustable maintenance dosing with budesonide/formoterol in a single inhaler versus fixed dosing in adults with asthma. Methods: In this prospective, randomised, open-label, parallel-group, multicentre trial conducted in Germany, patients with asthma received budesonide/formoterol 160mug/4.5mug in a single inhaler (Symbicort(R) Turbuhaler(R)) with two inhalations twice daily for a 4-week run-in period. Patients were then randomised to either adjustable maintenance dosing (one inhalation twice daily, stepping up to four inhalations twice daily for 1 week if asthma worsened; n = 1679) or fixed dosing (two inhalations twice daily; n = 1618) for 12 weeks. The primary efficacy variable was the change in health-related quality of life (HR-QOL), measured using the Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (standardised) during the randomised treatment period. Resource utilisation data were collected in parallel and combined with German unit costs to estimate direct and indirect costs (year 2001 values). Results: Both treatment regimens were equally effective in maintaining HR-QOL and asthma control during the randomised treatment period. However, overall, patients in the adjustable maintenance dosing group took fewer daily inhalations of budesonide/formoterol than those in the fixed-dosing group (mean: 2.63 vs 3.82 inhalations; p < 0.001). Adjustable maintenance dosing was associated with significantly lower asthma-related direct costs compared with fixed dosing (mean: _221 vs _292; p < 0.001). This pattern was maintained when patients were stratified into those with peak expiratory flow (PEF) of 60% to <80% predicted normal and those with PEF of >=80% predicted normal and when total costs were considered. Conclusion: Adjustable maintenance dosing with budesonide/formoterol in a single inhaler maintained HR-QOL in adult patients with asthma at a significantly lower cost than fixed dosing.
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