Baltimore—Depression has a detrimental effect on adherence to maintenance medications by Medicare beneficiaries newly diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a recent study in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society. For the study, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy–led researchers obtained Medicare administrative claims data to assess a 5% random sample of Medicare beneficiaries—averge age of 68 years—from 2006 to 2012. The study team focused on patients with 2 years of continuous Medicare Parts A, B, and D coverage, and at least two prescription fills for inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting beta-agonists, and long-acting anticholinergics. Adherence was based on the number of prescriptions filled, while presence of depression was defined as at least one diagnosis code on at least one inpatient claim, or at least two outpatient claims during the study period. Of the 31,033 beneficiaries meeting inclusion criteria, 20% were diagnosed with depression following COPD diagnosis. Results indicate that their average monthly adherence to COPD maintenance medications was low, peaking at 57% in the month following first fill, and decreasing to 25% within 6 months.

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