Using a learning health system to understand the mismatch between medicines supply and actual medicines use among adults with cystic fibrosis

Published:September 23, 2021DOI:


      • Historic cohorts suggested that supply of inhaled medicines may exceed actual use.
      • This is the first study to directly compare medicine supply (MPR) against adherence.
      • Among 275 adults in 12 CF centres, MPR over-estimates adherence by a median of 14%.
      • Even with 20% contingency, mean annual cost of excess supply was £1,124/patient.
      • Excess supply cost was higher in those with adherence <50% (mean £2,017/patient).



      Studies in separate cohorts suggest possible discrepancies between inhaled medicines supplied (median 50-60%) and medicines used (median 30-40%). We performed the first study that directly compares CF medicine supply against use to identify the cost of excess medicines supply.


      This cross-sectional study included participants from 12 UK adult centres with ≥1 year of continuous adherence data from data-logging nebulisers. Medicine supply was measured as medication possession ratio (MPR) for a 1-year period from the first suitable supply date. Medicine use was measured as electronic data capture (EDC) adherence over the same period. The cost of excess medicines was calculated as whole excess box(es) supplied after accounting for the discrepancy between EDC adherence and MPR with 20% contingency.


      Among 275 participants, 133 (48.4%) were females and mean age was 30 years (95% CI 29-31 years). Median EDC adherence was 57% (IQR 23-86%), median MPR was 74% (IQR 46-96%) and the discrepancy between measures was median 14% (IQR 2-29%). Even with 20% contingency, mean potential cost of excess medicines was £1,124 (95% CI £855-1,394), ranging from £183 (95% CI £29-338) for EDC adherence ≥80% to £2,017 (95% CI £1,507-2,526) for EDC adherence <50%.


      This study provides a conservative estimate of excess inhaled medicines supply cost among adults with CF in the UK. The excess supply cost was highest among those with lowest EDC adherence, highlighting the importance of adherence support and supplying medicine according to actual use. MPR provides information about medicine supply but over-estimates actual medicine use.


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