Researchers had said that short-acting Beta-agonist (SABA) prescriptions could be used as a surrogate marker for asthma morbidity of steroid and non-steroid users.
Using claims data for recipients covered by Illinois Medicaid, with a diagnosis of asthma from fiscal year 1996 through June 1998, researchers from Chicago, IL, obtained the claims for SABA- and asthma-related emergency department (ED) visits and hospital admissions for 31,140 adults.
Study results show an average of 6.7 SABA fills per person per year, and 138 hospitalizations per 1,000 men and 116 per 1,000 women. The most significant association between SABA prescriptions and ED visits or hospital admissions for asthma were when both occurred on the same day.
For individuals visiting the ED but not being hospitalized, 16.7% filled a SABA prescription on the same day. The figure dropped to 2.1% for hospitalized individuals. Male steroid users had a 3.4 times greater odds of filling a prescription on the day they had an ED or hospital visit, when compared to a day they did not have an ED/hospital visit, while this figure was 2.9 for women. For non-steroid users, men were 4.6 times more likely to fill a SABA prescription on the same day as a ED/hospital visit, while women were 5.5 times more likely.
A lesser but still significant association was found between the ED visits or hospital admissions occurring one to four days before a SABA prescription, but no association was established when a SABA prescription date preceded a hospital admission or an ED visit.
The study appears in the August issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.