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An Appraisal of Pharmacoeconomic Evidence of Maintenance Therapy for COPD*

Anna O. D’Souza, BPharm, MS; Michael J. Smith, PhD, RPh; Lesley Ann Miller, PhD; Jan Kavookjian, MBA, PhD
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*From the Department of Pharmaceutical Systems & Policy, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.

Correspondence to: Anna O. D’Souza, BPharm, MS, Department of Pharmaceutical Systems & Policy, West Virginia University School of Pharmacy, PO Box 9510, Morgantown, WV 26506; e-mail: adsouza@hsc.wvu.edu



Chest. 2006;129(6):1693-1708. doi:10.1378/chest.129.6.1693
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COPD is projected to be the third-leading cause of death by the year 2020. Pharmacotherapy for COPD is palliative at best, having no impact on slowing the progression of the disease. The introduction of newer therapies such as long-acting forms of bronchodilator and anticholinergic agents, together with the inclusion of inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs) in the recent Global Initiative for COPD therapeutic algorithm, have expanded the pharmacotherapy options for the treatment of COPD. This article provides a methodologic critique of the available pharmacoeconomic evidence on drug therapy for stable COPD in an effort to complement treatment guidelines and to identify any need for future pharmacoeconomic research. Relevant search strategies revealed a total of 28 economic evaluations of which 7 satisfied the study inclusion criteria. The Drummond 10-point checklist was used for the methodological critique of the economic evaluations. Five of seven pharmacoeconomic studies were conducted alongside a randomized controlled trial, and six of seven were cost-effectiveness analyses. Of the bronchodilators, the long-acting anticholinergic agent tiotropium is considered to be cost-effective relative to ipratropium. No conclusive information could be reached for the cost-effectiveness of long-acting β-agonists. A Markov analysis showed ICSs to be cost-effective for patients with moderate-to-severe COPD relative to standard care. However, assumptions of the model may bias this conclusion, and additional studies are warranted, especially compared to other treatments. The authors suggest that additional pharmacoeconomic studies be conducted to assess the cost-effectiveness of long-acting β-agonists and ICSs, between classes of bronchodilators, and between various combination therapies.

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