Published online: July 20, 2019
Asthma is a common respiratory disease that can cause severe health issues if not properly managed. Older patients and patients with disabilities may find it more difficult than younger patients to control their asthma symptoms and continue to take their medications as prescribed.
In a paper recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Li and colleagues studied treatment patterns of omalizumab among older (aged ≥65 years) and disabled (aged <65 years) patients covered under Medicare – a federal government program that offers health insurance to approximately 60 million older adults and/or disabled individuals in the US. Over a 12-month period, the authors examined adherence (whether ≥80% of follow-up days were covered with omalizumab use) and discontinuation (evidence of a continuous 90-day gap in omalizumab use). Various factors were then examined to determine their possible link to omalizumab treatment patterns.
Of the 3,058 patients studied, the authors found that approximately 60% of patients were adherent to omalizumab over the 12-month study. Over one-third of patients discontinued omalizumab treatment within the same time frame. Several factors associated with these treatment patterns were identified. Patients aged 65–74 years were more likely to be adherent to omalizumab than patients aged ≥80 years. Patients who frequently visited a doctor were also more likely to adhere to their treatment regimen. Those who received extra help via the Medicare low-income subsidy (LIS) were less likely to be adherent and were more likely to discontinue their omalizumab treatment.
Overall, this study identified several at-risk groups and modifiable factors, including patient age, income status, and the number of doctor visits. These factors could help inform future approaches to increase adherence to omalizumab, with the goal of improving control of asthma symptoms in these older and disabled patients with asthma.
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.