Study objectives: In recent years, there has been considerable interest in the use of antiinflammatory medications to decrease airway inflammation and preserve pulmonary function in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease. Long-term use of oral corticosteroids (OCS) and ibuprofen (IBU) has been proven efficacious in slowing the progression of CF. Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) have not been adequately studied. Little is known regarding use trends and physician attitudes toward these drugs.
Design: Cross-sectional survey mailed to 111 directors of Cystic Fibrosis Centers in the United States accredited by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The two-page written questionnaire included items regarding physicians' attitudes toward anti-inflammatories, center demographics, patients receiving therapy, and number of physicians prescribing therapy.
Results: Sixty-seven surveys were returned (60%). The responding centers represented 239 physicians and served 9,363 patients, 2,234 (24%) of whom were receiving routine antiinflammatory drugs. Complete data sets were available for 8,803 patients with 2,169 (25%) receiving anti-inflammatory therapy. Ninety-eight (41%) physicians prescribed long-term use of oral steroids for 413 (5%) patients, 103 (42%) prescribed inhaled steroids for 1,032 (12%) patients, and 108 (45%) prescribed high-dose IBU for 723 (8%) patients to control CF. The practitioners reported familiarity and efficacy as the primary reasons for prescribing OCS; concerns over side effects were the major reason for not prescribing. Regarding ICS, the primary reasons for prescribing were familiarity and safety, with lack of efficacy being cited as the major reason for not prescribing. For IBU, efficacy was ranked highest among reasons for prescribing, with concern over safety being the highest ranked reason for not prescribing.
Conclusions: Anti-inflammatory medications appear to be an underutilized therapeutic modality in CF care. This is true for numbers of patients receiving these drugs as well as numbers of care providers prescribing them. Additional studies will be required to address physicians' concerns regarding the long-term efficacy and safety of anti-inflammatory drugs in treating CF.