Asthma, COPD Inhaler Adherence Up During Pandemic

May 13, 2020

Adherence to controller medication appears to have increased between early January and late March among patients with asthma and COPD, finds a new study.

Medication adherence among patients with asthma and COPD appears to have increased during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to findings published online May 13 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

Using data from electronic medication monitors, Leanne Kaye, PhD, MPH, and colleagues at ResMed in San Francisco analyzed adherence to use of controller medication for 7578 patients (77% asthma, 67% females; median age 40 years). They compared adherence from the first 7 days of January 2020 with the last 7 days of March 2020 and found a 14.5% increase (53.7% to 61.5%) in mean daily controller medication adherence.

In addition, more than half (53%) of patients achieved <75% adherence to controller medications in the last week of March, an increase of 14.9% over the first week in January.

Increases in adherence were similar across age groups and, when adjusted for age, no clinically meaningful differences in adherence were observed for patients with asthma or COPD.

Data were collected from Propeller Health (Madison, WI), a digital platform that tracks inhaler use through electronic medication monitors and sends alerts to patients for missed doses.

“Although we cannot definitively state the cause of the improvement in adherence, the trend may be reflective of patients responding to national COVID-19 guidelines and to patient concern about controlling their primary respiratory illness with their controller medications,” the authors write.

The authors also point to selection bias as a limit to generalizing findings to the broader population of patients with asthma and COPD as motivation to meet higher levels of inhaler use may be stronger among patients who elect to track adherence

The authors also suggest that future research should explore medication adherence retrospectively during other recent pandemics, ie, H1N1.