Nearly half of Medicare beneficiaries with COPD are not being treated with recommended long-acting bronchodilator (LABD) maintenance therapy, based on study results scheduled to be presented at CHEST 2017.

Bartolome R. Celli, MD, FCCP, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and his colleagues will report results based on Medicare administrative data from 2010 to 2014 on 11,886 patients who had at least two outpatient visits for COPD within 30 days or at least one COPD-related hospitalization and received nebulized arformoterol therapy.

The findings should stimulate further study on why clinicians overrely on short-acting rather than the recommended long-acting bronchodilators for maintenance treatment of appropriate patients, according to the researchers’ abstract. Additionally, studies should examine triggers for initiating arformoterol, and link outcomes to arformoterol monotherapy vs. combination therapy. Such analyses could help advance clinical decision making, particularly for COPD patients with a history of exacerbations and hospitalizations.

For the study, the researchers examined COPD patients’ therapeutic regimens for the 90 days prior to and following the start of arformoterol therapy. Patients were classed based on one of four treatment options: long-acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMAs) and inhaled long-acting beta-2 agonists (LABAs), including fixed-dose LABA and inhaled corticosteroid combinations; inhaled and nebulized corticosteroids; methylxanthines; and other medications such as short-acting bronchodilators, oral corticosteroids, and antibiotics.

Rates of medication initiation and treatment continuation or discontinuation within these classes were determined based on refill patterns following the start of arformoterol therapy. The researchers note that 42% of the patient cohort was 75 years or older, and 37% were dually eligible for Medicaid.

Overall, 46% of the cohort had received no LABD maintenance treatment in the 90 days prior to initiating arformoterol. Instead, they were being treated with a nebulized (50%) or an inhaled (37%) short-acting bronchodilator, a systemic corticosteroid (46%), and antibiotics (37%).

After starting arformoteral, 58% of beneficiaries received dual therapy. More than half of them, 52%, received LABA and inhaled/nebulized corticosteroids, 6% received LAMA/LAMA therapy, and 21% received triple-therapy (LABA/LAMA plus inhaled or nebulized corticosteroids). The other 20% received only arformoterol.

After initiating arformoterol, 41% of the cohort discontinued one or more classes of their pre-arformoteral medications. The largest decrease was a 23% drop in use of corticosteroids.

Dr. Celli is scheduled to present his research on Tuesday, Oct. 31, from 2:45 to 3:00 pm in Convention Center – 602B at the CHEST annual meeting. His presentation will be part of a session entitled “COPD: Lessons for the Real-World Management of Disease,” running from 2:45 to 4:15 pm.

One of the researchers is an employee of Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, and two others are with Advance Health Solutions.