Patients with asthma that is well-controlled by their current level of medication can step down their treatments safely, while at same time reducing the cost of therapy, according to a study published online ahead of print October 21 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Lead author Matthew Rank, MD, and colleagues identified patients with asthma from the US Medical Expenditure Panel Survey collected from 2000 to 2010. Data on each patient were available for a 2-year period that was divided into 5 periods of 4 to 5 months each. Study participants were considered eligible to step down their medications if they had not been hospitalized or had gone to the emergency department for asthma during the first 3 periods and if they had taken no systemic corticosteroids and no more than 3 rescue inhalers in periods 2 and 3. 


Of the patients studied, the researchers determined that 4,235 (29.9%) were eligible to step down. Patients who decreased their medications were able to maintain control over their asthma symptoms that was comparable to no change in medication levels (89.4% of those who stepped down vs. 83.5% of those who did not). 


The researchers determined that study participants who stepped down their treatments saved $34.02 per month on average.