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01.12.2012 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

BMC Health Services Research 1/2012

Trends in the treatment changes and medication persistence of chronic myeloid leukemia in Taiwan from 1997 to 2007: a longitudinal population database analysis

BMC Health Services Research > Ausgabe 1/2012
Chao-Sung Chang, Yi-Hsin Yang, Chien-Ning Hsu, Min-Ting Lin
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1472-6963-12-359) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

CSC helped to conceive of the study and revised the manuscript; YSY obtained funding and supplied the database; MTL performed data analyses; CNH helped to conceive of and design the study, and wrote the manuscript. All authors approved the final submitted manuscript.



Few studies have examined the longitudinal changes in the patterns, selection, and utilization of treatments for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in routine clinical practice since the introduction of imatinib. Therefore, we investigated the trends in CML therapy, including changes, patterns, and persistence to imatinib therapy among patients with newly diagnosed CML.


We conducted a cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis of 11 years of claims data for patients with newly diagnosed CML included in the Taiwan National Health Insurance program. Pharmacy and diagnosis claims for newly diagnosed CML recorded between 1997 and 2007 year were extracted from the database. Annual overall use, new use of CML therapy, and persistence to imatinib therapy were estimated. The Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical codes for CML therapy [i.e., imatinib and conventional therapy: busulfan, hydroxyurea, interferon-α (IFNα), and cytarabine], and the process code for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation were used to categorize treatment patterns. Associations with patients characteristics were analyzed by multivariate logistic regression.


Overall, the proportion of patients with newly diagnosed CML to all patients with CML increased by approximately 4-fold between 1998 and 2007. There were steady increases in the proportions of all treated patients and those starting therapy from 2003 to 2007. Fewer comorbid conditions and lower severity of CML were associated with treatment initiation. Medication persistence varied according to treatment duration, as 38.7% patients continued imatinib for ≥ 18 months without interruption but only 7.7% continued imatinib for ≥ 5 years. Factors associated with persistence to imatinib therapy were removal of the need for prior authorization for imatinib, and prior use of hydroxyurea and IFNα, whereas having undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplantation led to reduced likelihood of persistence to imatinib therapy.


Treatment decisions for patients with CML changed over time in routine clinical practice. Our findings suggest that clinicians are increasingly adopting the recommendations of international treatment guidelines for CML. However, persistence to imatinib therapy is still substantially below the recommended level based on current evidence for its efficacy. Our study also highlights the need to improve treatment persistence and effectiveness of imatinib over the long term.
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Authors’ original file for figure 2
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