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Asthma drug adherence in a long term clinical trial


AIM To measure drug adherence in children with mild asthma receiving long term prophylactic treatment.

METHODS Double blind randomised placebo controlled trial. Patients received inhaled budesonide 100 μg or 200 μg daily, or placebo for 27 months. All participants were asked to inhale medication or placebo from two different Turbuhalers (morning and evening) during the study. A total of 122 children (80 boys, 42 girls) aged 7–16 years with mild asthma (mean FEV1 103.7% of predicted) were included in the trial. Drug adherence was assessed by counting the number of remaining doses in the inhaler when study medication was returned at six month intervals.

RESULTS A statistically significant and continuing decrease in measured drug adherence was found from three to nine months and then to 27 months, reaching mean values of 40.6% and 46.9% for inhaled morning and evening medication respectively. Drug adherence declined more rapidly in the placebo group (compared to active treatment); this difference became significant after two years of treatment. Children aged 9 years or less had better drug adherence during the entire study period, but the difference was only significant for the first three months of the study. Measured drug adherence was significantly higher for evening medication compared to morning medication for all study intervals after nine months.

CONCLUSION Measured drug adherence diminishes significantly when treating children with mild asthma in a long term trial. This emphasises the importance of monitoring compliance in clinical trials.

  • drug adherence
  • patient compliance
  • inhaled corticosteroids
  • childhood asthma

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