Background: Treatment guidelines recommend concomitant use of ipratropium bromide and inhaled beta2-agonists as severity of COPD progresses. While the use of these two agents in a single inhaler may enhance patient compliance and result in cost savings, it may, by itself, increase medication use. We assessed whether the introduction of a combined inhaled bronchodilator in the treatment of COPD modifies the use and costs related to prescribed medications.
Method: A cohort of subjects > or =45 years old initiating treatment with either a combined inhaled bronchodilator (641 subjects) or ipratropium bromide and inhaled beta2 -agonist (411 subjects) between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 1997, was identified using the Saskatchewan Health databases. The primary outcomes were prescribed medication usage and the subsequent related costs during a 1-year follow-up period. Poisson regression analysis was used to estimate rate ratios (RRs) adjusted for drug use and hospitalization during the year prior to cohort entry.
Results: The adjusted RR of inhaled bronchodilator use was elevated for combined inhaled bronchodilator therapy (adjusted RR, 1.16; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.07 to 1.26). However, the overall costs associated with these inhaled bronchodilators were reduced with combined inhaled bronchodilator therapy (adjusted mean ratio, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.76 to 0.92). The rate of use of other respiratory drugs and antibiotics was similar (adjusted RR, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.93 to 1.16). Applying the rate ratio for cost savings to all new, combined inhaled bronchodilator users led to estimated annual savings in Canadian dollars of 103,468 dollars (95% CI, 48,694 dollars to 146,082 dollars) in this province.
Conclusion: The introduction of a simpler bronchodilator dosing regimen did not significantly alter the treatment of COPD and resulted in appreciable cost savings.