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Undertreatment of COPD: a retrospective analysis of US managed care and Medicare patients

Authors Make, Dutro M, Paulose-Ram, Marton JP, Mapel D

Received 8 October 2011

Accepted for publication 19 November 2011

Published 18 January 2012 Volume 2012:7 Pages 1—9


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Barry Make1, Michael P Dutro2, Ryne Paulose-Ram2, Jenö P Marton2, Douglas W Mapel3
1National Jewish Health, Denver, CO, 2Pfizer Inc, New York, NY, 3Lovelace Clinic Foundation, Albuquerque, NM, USA

Background: We investigated a large population of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to determine their frequency of medication use and patterns of pharmacotherapy.
Methods: Medical and pharmacy claims data were retrospectively analyzed from 19 health plans (>7.79 million members) across the US. Eligible patients were aged ≥40 years, continuously enrolled during July 2004 to June 2005, and had at least one inpatient or at least two outpatient claims coded for COPD. As a surrogate for severity of illness, COPD patients were stratified by complexity of illness using predefined International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification, Current Procedural Terminology, Fourth Edition, and Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System codes.
Results: A total of 42,565 patients with commercial insurance and 8507 Medicare patients were identified. Their mean age was 54.7 years and 74.8 years, and 48.7% and 46.9% were male, respectively. In total, 66.3% of commercial patients (n = 28,206) were not prescribed any maintenance COPD pharmacotherapy (59.1% no medication; 7.2% inhaled short-acting ß2-agonist only). In the Medicare population, 70.9% (n = 6031) were not prescribed any maintenance COPD pharmacotherapy (66.0% no medication; 4.9% short-acting ß2-agonist only). A subset of patients classified as high-complexity were similarly undertreated, with 58.7% (5358/9121) of commercial and 68.8% (1616/2350) of Medicare patients not prescribed maintenance COPD pharmacotherapy. Only 18.0% and 9.8% of diagnosed smokers in the commercial and Medicare cohorts had a claim for a smoking cessation intervention and just 16.6% and 23.5%, respectively, had claims for an influenza vaccination.
Conclusion: This study highlights a high degree of undertreatment of COPD in both commercial and Medicare patients, with most patients receiving no maintenance pharmacotherapy or influenza vaccination.

Keywords: managed care, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, health care utilization, quality of care

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