Asthma affects more than 300 million people in the world, costs over $80 billion annually in the United States, and is efficaciously treated with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). To our knowledge, no studies have examined the real-world effectiveness of ICS, including the combination therapy consisting of ICS and long-acting beta agonists (LABAs), and patterns of use over a 15-year time period. We used data from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California multi-ethnic Genetic Epidemiology Research on Adult Health and Aging (GERA) Cohort which comprises longitudinal electronic health record data of over 100,000 people. Data included longitudinal asthma-related events, such as ambulatory office visits, hospitalizations, emergency department (ED) visits, and fills of ICS and ICS-LABA combination. Asthma exacerbations were defined as an asthma-related ED visit, hospitalization, or oral corticosteroid (OCS) burst. We used an expected-value approach to determine ICS and ICS-LABA coverage over exacerbation events. We compared rates of exacerbation of subjects on ICS or ICS-LABAs to their own rates of exacerbation when off controller medications. We found ICS-LABA therapy had significant effects, reducing all types of exacerbations per day by a factor of 1.76 (95% CI (1.06, 2.93), p = 0.03) and, specifically, bursts per day by a factor of 1.91 (95% CI (1.04, 3.53), p = 0.037). In conclusion, ICS-LABA therapy was significantly associated with fewer asthma-related exacerbations in a large population of individuals with asthma who were followed for 15 years.
Keywords: asthma; clinical data; efficacy; exacerbations; inhaled corticosteroids; long-acting beta agonist.