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Humana and Boehringer Ingelheim Report New Findings on COPD Medication Adherence

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There is no cure for COPD, however currently-available treatments aim to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms, which include coughing, breathlessness and tightness in the chest.

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January 10, 2017 | by Sarah Hand, M.Sc.

Healthcare insurance company, Humana, and global pharmaceutical company, Boehringer Ingelheim, have found an association between medication adherence to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) treatments and other chronic disease drugs. The findings were published in the International Journal of COPD.

COPD is a respiratory disease which progressively worsens over time. There is no cure for COPD, however currently-available treatments aim to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms, which include coughing, breathlessness and tightness in the chest.

“Because people living with COPD are frequently diagnosed with another chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, we designed this new study to explore the relationship between adherence to daily medicines for these other diseases and adherence to daily maintenance medicines for COPD,” said study co-author, Phil Schwab with Humana's Comprehensive Health Insights. “The study results showed patients who are likely to be non-adherent to other medicines are also likely to be non-adherent to their COPD medicines.”



According to the study authors, this finding suggests that non-adherence to medications for chronic conditions like COPD, could be caused by a number of factors that affect a person’s ability and willingness to take their medication as prescribed. These factors could be behavioural in nature – such as forgetfulness – or they could relate to a patient’s socioeconomic situation – including low income, low health literacy or lack of coordinated healthcare.

“These findings are important, because they help guide physicians on how best to support COPD patients with historically low adherence in taking their medications so they can achieve optimal health outcomes,” said Dr. Andrew Renda, Bold Goal Director for Humana. “Rather than focus on the number and type of comorbidities with COPD, holistic adherence improvement efforts should address access, affordability, and most importantly, education on how these medications improve symptoms and quality of life while reducing the risk of exacerbations.”

Over 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COPD, along with other lower respiratory diseases, represent the third leading cause of death in the US.


Keywords: COPD, Medication Adherence, Chronic Disease


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