To determine the clinical and economic consequences of inhaled corticosteroid doses and particle size in patients on triple-inhalation therapy for COPD.
Patients aged ≥40 years who initiated treatment with multi-inhaler triple-inhaled therapy between 1 January 2015 and 31 March were included and followed for 1 year. Patients were grouped according to inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) dose (low/medium/high) and particle size device (extrafine/non-extrafine particles). Outcome variables were moderate and severe exacerbations, pneumonia and healthcare resource use (HCRU) costs. A multivariate analysis was performed for model correction (p<0.05).
A total of 2185 patients (mean age 72.3 years, 82.9% male) were analysed. Of these, 849 (38.9%) patients received low-dose ICS, 612 medium-dose ICS (28.0%) and 724 (33.1%) high-dose ICS. Exacerbations occurred more frequently with increasing IC dose (low: 26.4%, medium: 28.7% and high: 30.4%; p=0.047), as did the proportion of pneumonia (3.4%, 4.2% and 6.9%, respectively (p=0.041)). The annual mean cost/unit was € 2383 for low dose, € 2401 for medium dose and € 2625 for high dose (p=0.024). Four hundred and sixty-two (31.6%) patients used an extrafine particle device and 999 (68.4%) a non-extrafine particle device: the proportion of exacerbations was 24.0% vs 30.4% (p=0.012), and the annual mean cost/unit was € 2090 vs € 2513, respectively (p<0.001). The number of exacerbations was directly correlated with FEV 1 (β= −0.157), age (β=0.071), Charlson index (β=0.050) and device type (extrafine: β=0.049) (p<0.02).
In patients with COPD receiving multi-inhaler triple therapy, higher ICS doses were not associated with a further reduction in exacerbations, whereas we found an increased risk of pneumonia. The use of inhaler devices delivering extrafine ICS particle was associated with a lower rate of exacerbations, resulting in lower overall HCRU costs.