Acute and chronic systemic corticosteroid–related complications in patients with severe asthma

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Abstract

Background:

Many patients with severe asthma require maintenance treatment with systemic corticosteroids (SCSs) to control daily symptoms and prevent serious acute exacerbations, but chronic SCS use is associated with complications.

Objective:

We sought to evaluate the risk of SCS-related complications by SCS exposure and quantify the associated health care costs and resource use in patients with severe asthma.

Methods:

We performed a longitudinal, open-cohort, observational study using health insurance claims data (1997–2013: Medicaid) from Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, and New Jersey. Eligible patients were 12 years old or older with 2 or more asthma diagnoses and had more than 6 months of continuous SCS use. An open-cohort approach was used to classify patients' follow-up into low, medium, and high SCS exposure (≤6, >6–12, and >12 mg/d, respectively). Multivariate generalized estimating equation models were used to estimate the adjusted risk of SCS-related complications for patients with medium and high exposure compared with patients with low exposure and quantify the resulting health care resource use and costs.

Results:

The study included 3628 patients (mean age, 57.6 years; 68% female). Patients with medium and high SCS exposure had significantly higher risks of SCS-related complications, including infections and cardiovascular, metabolic, psychiatric, ocular, gastrointestinal, and bone-related complications (odds ratio, 1.23–2.12 by complication;P< .05 for all but one) versus those with low (reference group) SCS exposure. Medium and high SCS exposure were also associated with significantly more emergency department visits (incidence rate ratios, 1.31 [P= .0004] and 1.78 [P< .0001]) and inpatient visits (incidence rate ratios, 1.25 [P< .0001] and 1.59 [P< .0001]) versus low SCS exposure.

Conclusions:

A significant dose-response relationship was demonstrated between chronic SCS use and risk of SCS-related complications in patients with severe asthma. Effective SCS-sparing strategies might reduce the burden associated with SCS-related complications in patients with severe asthma.

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