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Socioeconomic inequality in the use of prescription medications for smoking cessation among patients with COPD: a nationwide study

Sandra Sogaard Tøttenborg, Alice Jessie Clark, Reimar Wernich Thomsen, et al.
Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis 2018;13:1775–1781
doi: 10.2147/COPD.S158954

Smoking cessation is an effective intervention in aiding the slowing of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The combination of pharmacotherapy (e.g. bupropion or varenicline) and behavioural intervention is the most effective smoking cessation method. However, in Denmark bupropion and varenicline are often unsubsidised and costly, potentially affecting the likelihood of a successful quit in particular subgroups of society.

This study explored the use of these quitting aids in COPD patients, and the socioeconomic patterns of use among these individuals. Using the Danish register of COPD and National Prescription Registry, the researchers identified and followed 4,741 smoking COPD patients for six months from first outpatient clinic contact. They documented the likelihood of these individuals filling out a prescription for either varenicline or bupropion, and calculated the odds for filling out a prescription based on socio-demographic patient characteristics.

Results revealed these pharmacotherapies were sparingly used among COPD outpatients, with the lowest use being observed among those most socioeconomically disadvantaged. Based on this, researchers concluded that this highlights a missed opportunity for intervention.

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