Rottenkolber M, Fischer R, Ibanez L, Fortuny J, Reynolds R, Amelio J, Gerlach R, Tauscher M, Thurmann P, Hasford J, Schmiedl S. Prescribing of long-acting beta-2-agonists/inhaled corticosteroids after the SMART trial. BMC Pulm Med. 2015 May 6;15:55.

BACKGROUND: After the SMART trial evaluating the safety of salmeterol (long-acting beta-2-agonist (LABA)) in asthma patients, regulatory actions were taken to promote a guideline-adherent prescribing of LABA only to patients receiving inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). We aim to analyse LABA- and ICS-related prescription patterns after the SMART trial in Germany.

METHODS: Patients documented in the Bavarian Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians database (approximately 10.5 million people) were included if they had a diagnosis of asthma and at least one prescription of LABA and/or ICS between 2004 and 2008. Annual period prevalence rates (PPRs) were estimated and Cochrane Armitage tests were used for time trend analyses.

RESULTS: Highest annual PPRs were found for budesonide and the fixed combination of salmeterol/fluticasone. The proportion of "concomitant LABA and ICS users" increased from 52.0 to 57.6% within the study period, whereas for "LABA users without ICS" a slight decrease from 6.5 to 5.4% was found. In 2008, the proportion of patients with at least one quarter with a LABA prescription without concomitant ICS was highest in elderly, male patients (≈20%). In the majority of these patients, a concomitant diagnosis of COPD (i.e. asthma-COPD overlap syndrome [ACOS]) was present.

CONCLUSIONS: Between 2004 and 2008, we found a moderate increase in guideline-adherent LABA prescribing in a representative German population. Elderly men received a significant number of LABA prescriptions without concomitant ICS probably due to ACOS.

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