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Am J Manag Care. 2000 Sep;6(9):1045-50.

Anti-inflammatory therapy reduces total costs of asthma care compared with bronchodilation: the Asthma Outcomes Registry.

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  • 1ICSL Healthcare Research, Waltham, MA 02451-7341, USA.



Current consensus guidelines recommend reliance on anti-inflammatory drugs to treat asthma, reserving theophylline and other long-acting bronchodilators as adjuncts for patients whose symptoms are not well controlled with anti-inflammatory therapy. The effect of such recommendations on total costs of asthma care has not yet been examined, however.


To explore the relation between choice of maintenance therapy with anti-inflammatory agents vs long-acting bronchodilators and annual costs of asthma care using data from the Asthma Outcomes Registry.


Patients 16 years and older were selected from the Asthma Outcomes Registry cohort if they had received either anti-inflammatories (inhaled corticosteroids or cromones) or long-acting bronchodilators (theophylline, salmeterol, oral beta-agonists, or ipratropium bromide), but not both, for at least 1 year before study entry. Oral corticosteroid-dependent patients, those with other chronic lung disease, and those with incomplete cost data during the 365 days before and after their enrollment in the Asthma Outcomes Registry (baseline and follow-up years) were excluded. The effect of anti-inflammatory vs bronchodilator therapy was assessed by comparing the change (follow-up minus baseline) in total costs of asthma care.


A total of 314 patients met criteria for study inclusion (237 treated with anti-inflammatories and 77 treated with bronchodilators). Median costs during the baseline year were similar in the anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator groups ($341 and $335, respectively). In the follow-up year, the median change in cost in the anti-inflammatory group was a decline of $93 compared with an increase of $76 in the bronchodilator group (P < .0001). This treatment effect was consistent across subgroups defined by age and amount of medication consumed.


These findings add support to current guidelines recommending reliance on anti-inflammatory therapy to control asthma. The emergence of new therapeutic agents to control inflammation may continue to reduce the costs of treating this important disease.

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