Background: The goal of asthma therapy is to maintain consistent control.
Objective: We sought to examine the patterns of asthma control recorded over 3 years using administrative claims and resource utilization definition.
Methods: We performed a retrospective observational study with a nationally representative patient-level database containing pharmacy and medical claims. Patients with asthma (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision-Clinical Modification code 493.xx), patients undergoing treatment with at least 1 asthma medication, and patients with 36 months of continuous claims coverage during the calendar years 1996 through 2002 were identified. A total of 63,324 patients were included in the study. Patients were classified as having controlled asthma in year 1 if they had less than 4 claims for a short-acting beta 2 -agonist, no claims for an OCS, and no asthma-related emergency department visits or hospitalizations. Patients were then followed over the next 8 quarters (2 years) to observe whether control was maintained. Control during a quarter was defined with the same criteria, except the reliever threshold was adjusted to 2 or more claims per quarter.
Results: Thirty-nine thousand ninety-five (57%) patients were defined as having controlled asthma during year 1. During the 2-year follow-up period, a range of 10% to 14% of these patients with controlled asthma met the criteria of uncontrolled asthma during any given quarter. Overall, 46,227 (73%) patients identified met the criteria for uncontrolled asthma at least once during the 3-year period.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that almost 75% of asthmatic patients experience an uncontrolled asthma episode 1 or more times over a 3-year period. Furthermore, we found that significant fluctuations in asthma control exist, even in patients with prior controlled asthma.