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Use of medicines and health services for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among a cohort of Australians over 50 years

Authors Lim R, Kerr M, Roughead EE

Received 27 April 2018

Accepted for publication 6 August 2018

Published 4 October 2018 Volume 2018:13 Pages 3085—3093

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S172495

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 6

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell


Renly Lim, Mhairi Kerr, Elizabeth E Roughead

Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre, School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia

Background: It is not known if the medicines and services for COPD are used in Australia according to the COPD-X guideline. This study examined the use of medicines and health services for COPD among an Australian cohort to determine if they were consistent with recommendations.
Methods: The administrative claims data from the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs were used and included persons aged ≥50 years who were using medicines for COPD in April 2016. Use of medicines was identified using the Anatomical, Therapeutic and Chemical Classification and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Use of services was identified using the Medicare Benefits Schedule and Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs Fee Schedule.
Results: Of the 143,261 persons aged ≥50 years, 12,623 (8.8%) were on medicines for COPD. Of the total COPD population, 42% were managed on monotherapy, 36% on dual therapy, 21% on triple therapy, and 1.5% on more than three COPD medicines. Monotherapy comprised tiotropium (80%) predominantly. Services to practitioners who may provide pulmonary rehabilitation service showed less than 10% of the cohort had a claim for a visit to an exercise physiologist and less than a third had a claim for a physiotherapist visit in the prior 12 months. Services to assist with care coordination in the form of general practitioner management plans were only claimed by half of the cohort, while services supporting appropriate medicine use were claimed by less than one in six cases, despite high levels of inhaler use and multiple inhaler use.
Conclusion: More than three-quarters of COPD persons aged 50 years and above were managed on either monotherapy or dual therapy, consistent with the guideline recommendations. Almost one-quarter was on three or more therapies, which will create challenges for multiple device management. Many services that may benefit persons with COPD appear to be underutilized.

Keywords: Australia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, health services administration, medicine utilization

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