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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 Jul;108(1):39-46.

Cost-effectiveness of inhaled corticosteroids in adults with mild-to-moderate asthma: results from the asthma policy model.

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8034, USA



Inhaled corticosteroids remain underused among United States-based clinicians in treating mild-to-moderate adult asthma.


The purpose of this investigation was to estimate the clinical impact, health-related quality of life, cost, and cost-effectiveness of inhaled corticosteroid therapy in a population of patients aged 18 years and over with FEV(1) = 60% to 100% of predicted normal.


We performed a cost-effectiveness analysis of quick relievers (eg, short-acting beta-agonists) on an as-needed basis plus inhaled corticosteroid therapy versus quick relievers alone. A mathematical simulation model was developed to forecast symptoms, acute exacerbations, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), health care costs, and cost-effectiveness, measured in both dollars per QALY gained and dollars per symptom-free day gained. All evaluation outcomes were discounted at an annual rate of 3% and measured over a 10-year planning horizon. Data on the natural history of disease, drug efficacy, patient preferences, and economic costs were obtained from a variety of observational cohorts, randomized trials, and patient surveys.


Over a 10-year period, use of inhaled corticosteroids increases total health costs from roughly $5,200 to $8,400 and improves QALYs from 6.8 to 7.0, implying an incremental cost of $13,500 per QALY gained. Costs per symptom-free day gained are $7.50. Both per-person acute exacerbations and hospitalizations are reduced by 33%. The cost-effectiveness findings are sensitive to the assumed efficacy and side-effects of inhaled corticosteroid therapy.


Inhaled corticosteroids appear to deliver good comparative value in adults with mild-to-moderate asthma. Although more research is needed to understand their impact on preferences regarding side effects and compliance, these findings might be useful for priority-setting in limited resource situations.

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