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Open Access Research article

Gout treatment and comorbidities: a retrospective cohort study in a large US managed care population

Paola Primatesta1*, Estel Plana2 and Dietrich Rothenbacher3

Author Affiliations

1 Global Clinical Epidemiology, Novartis Pharma AG, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland

2 Global Clinical Epidemiology, Novartis Farmacéutica SA, Barcelona, Spain

3 Institute for Epidemiology and Medical Biometry, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2011, 12:103  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-103

Published: 20 May 2011

Abstract

Background

Gout prevalence increased in recent years to become one of the most common causes of inflammatory arthritis in most industrialised countries. Comorbidities may affect the disease severity and treatment patterns. We describe the main characteristics of gout patients, gout-related treatment patterns and prevalent comorbidities in a managed care population.

Methods

From the large US PharMetrics Patient-Centric Database, patients aged 20-89 with at least 2 claims for a diagnosis of gout (ICD9 274.xx) and related prescriptions between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 2008 were included. Gout flares were ascertained during follow-up. Sex-specific multivariable Poisson regression models were used to assess factors associated with number of flares.

Results

177,637 gout patients were included (mean age 55.2 years; men 75.6%). Overall, more than half (58.1%) had any of the considered comorbidities; hypertension (36.1%), dyslipidemia (27.0%) and diabetes (15.1%) being the most common. Nonselective NSAIDs were the most commonly dispensed (in 38.7% of patients). Notably, 39% of patients did not receive any prescription medication for gout. Patients with comorbidities were significantly more likely to receive anti-gout prescriptions. During an acute episode the prescription of NSAIDs and colchicine increased; and 29.9% of patients received allopurinol. The risk of flares was associated with cardiometabolic comorbidities and older age in women (highest at age 60-69), while in men it decreased by age. Women with these conditions were 60% more likely to have flares (incidence rate ratio, IRR 1.60;1.48-1.74), while men were 10% (IRR 1.10; 1.06-1.13) more likely.

Conclusions

Comorbidities affected gout treatment patterns and the occurrence and frequency of acute attacks. Cardiometabolic comorbidities, common in this patients' population, were associated with an increased risk of flares.