Shocking Study shows the US is slipping in asthma control

Asthma is a common illness, affecting over 300 million people worldwide. In the US approximately 10% of children and 8% of US adults have the disease. Despite the fact that it is treatable, approximately 180,000 people die as a result of asthma each year, 4,000 of them in America.

Maybe now we know why.  According to results of a first of its kind survey, 49% of children and adults with persistent asthma are not using controller medications.

The results of the 1,000 asthma sufferer CHOICE (Comprehensive Survey of Healthcare Professionals and Asthma Patients Offering Insight on Current Treatment Gaps and Emerging Device Options) survey were published in the March 2012 issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Results demonstrate the current extent of poor asthma control in the US, and shows the country has fallen far short of national asthma management targets.

Among the most shocking results:

  • 79% of patients had persistent asthma and should have been on controllers.
  • Of the 51% on controllers, 86% were inadequately treated i.e., their asthma was not well or very poorly controlled.

Patients with severe persistent and uncontrolled asthma frequently reported feeling isolated, fearful, depressed and tired.

Uncontrolled asthma is severely affecting patients’ quality of life and increases the risk of emergency department visits and hospitalizations,” said co-author and SRxA Advisor Michael Blaiss, MD. “Asthma sufferers need to schedule regular office visits, talk with their allergists about preventative controller therapy and then use those medications regularly.”

Research shows that asthma patients under the care of an allergist have better outcomes at less cost because of fewer emergency care visits, fewer hospitalizations, reduced lengths of hospital stays, fewer days missed from work or school, increased productivity in their work and personal lives, greater satisfaction with their care and an improved quality of life.

So if you have asthma, suspect you have asthma or know someone with asthma, please get it treated. Most asthma deaths are largely preventable. Together we can help to change the awful results seen in this study.

Uncontrolled asthma leads to out of control costs

SRxA’s Word on Health has often reported on the price of non-adherence to treatment . So, although we were shocked, we weren’t surprised to learn that poorly controlled asthma doubles costs and affects children’s performance in school.

According to a study just published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology  children with very poorly controlled asthma miss an average of 18 days from the classroom; whereas kids whose disease is better controlled, are absent for two days or less.

The investigators from National Jewish Hospital studied 628 children aged 6-12 with severe asthma. They looked at direct medical costs such as medications, unscheduled doctor visits, emergency department visits and hospital admissions as well as the indirect costs such as school days lost.

Patients were divided into three groups: very poorly controlled, not well controlled and well controlled. Costs were evaluated at the start of the study and then one and two years later.

The group, led by Stanley Szefler MD found that the costs for very poorly controlled patients were twice as high as those of the other groups at baseline. Very poorly controlled patients cost $7,846, compared with $3,526 for not-well controlled and $3,766 for well-controlled.

Two years later the costs for the very poorly controlled group had risen to $8,880 while costs for those with well-controlled asthma dropped to $1,861.  Indirect costs accounted for approximately half the total asthma costs for very poorly controlled asthma patients at each time point.

The authors concluded that very poorly controlled asthma is a major economic burden and improvement in asthma control and is associated with reducing cost.

SRxA together with our expert Allergy and Pulmonary Advisors  can help pharmaceutical companies promote better management strategies that may significantly reduce this burden of illness. For more information, contact us today.