Purpose: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by persistent respiratory symptoms and is a leading cause of disability in China. Acute exacerbations of COPD (AECOPD) are a leading cause of hospitalizations, and account for a substantial proportion of medical expenditure. Corticosteroids are commonly used to manage AECOPD in hospitalized patients, so our objective was to analyze the total medical expenditure associated with nebulized budesonide (nBUD) vs. systemic corticosteroids (SCS) in this population.
Patients and methods: A post-hoc analysis was carried out in 1,577 and 973 patients diagnosed with COPD who had received “any” nBUD or SCS regimen for AECOPD during hospitalization, respectively. Regimens included monotherapy, sequential therapy, and sequential-combination therapy. Comparative total medical expenditure was analyzed using a generalized linear model controlling for age, gender, comorbidities, smoking history, and respiratory failure or pneumonia on admission.
Results: The total medical expenditure per capita with any nBUD or SCS regimen was CN¥11,814 (US$1,922) and CN¥12,153 (US$1,977), respectively. Any nBUD regimen was associated with a significant saving of 5.1% in expenditure compared with any SCS regimen ( P=0.0341). Comorbidities, Type II respiratory failure, or pneumonia were patient factors associated with higher total medical expenditure ( P<0.0001). In a subgroup analysis of the patients who received monotherapy, total medical expenditure was CN¥10,900 (US$1,773) for nBUD and CN¥11,581 (US$1,884) for SCS; nBUD was associated with a significant saving of 8.7% in expenditure compared with SCS ( P=0.0013). Similarly, in patients with respiratory failure, treatment with any nBUD regimen was associated with a 10.6% saving in expenditure over any SCS regimen ( P=0.0239); however, the same comparison was not significant in patients without respiratory failure (3.4%; P=0.2299).
Conclusion: AECOPD is a leading cause of hospitalization in China, which places substantial burden on the healthcare system. This post-hoc analysis suggests that nBUD regimens are associated with lower medical expenditure than SCS regimens in hospitalized patients with AECOPD, and may reduce the financial burden of COPD. However, prospective studies evaluating the effectiveness of nBUD therapies are warranted.