Clinical outcomes and treatment cost comparison of levalbuterol versus albuterol in hospitalized adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma

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Results of a prospective study comparing clinical outcomes and costs of levalbuterol versus albuterol therapy for exacerbations of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are presented.


In a single-center open-label study, selected adults hospitalized for asthma or COPD exacerbations over a 21-month period were randomly assigned to receive levalbuterol 1.25 mg three times daily (n = 55) or albuterol 2.5 mg four times daily (n = 57); dosage reductions and other respiratory therapies were permitted. Study outcomes included scheduled and rescue nebulizations, total treatment costs, hospital length of stay, and change in heart rate from baseline.


The numbers of scheduled nebulizations were similar in the levalbuterol and albuterol groups (mean ± S.D., 19.6 ± 13.4 versus 20.7 ± 14.4; p = 0.692), as were the numbers of rescue nebulizations (mean ± S.D., 0.7 ± 1.4 versus 0.8 ± 2.0; p = 0.849). The mean change from baseline in heart rate did not differ significantly between groups. Mean total treatment costs per patient were significantly greater with the use of levalbuterol ($8003, bootstrap 95% confidence interval [CI], $6628–$9379) versus albuterol ($5772, bootstrap 95% CI, $5051–$6494; p = 0.006). Hospital length of stay was significantly greater in the levalbuterol group (mean ± S.D., 8.5 ± 5.2 days versus 6.8 ± 3.6 days with albuterol use; p = 0.040).


Clinical outcomes were similar with the use of levalbuterol versus albuterol for exacerbations of COPD or asthma. On average, patients receiving levalbuterol had longer and more costly hospital stays.

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