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Evaluating oseltamivir prescriptions in Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services medical claims records as an indicator of seasonal influenza in the United States
  • Published Date:
    Mar 25 2018
  • Source:
    Influenza Other Respir Viruses. 12(4):465-474.
  • Language:
Filetype[PDF-1.25 MB]

  • Alternative Title:
    Influenza Other Respir Viruses
  • Description:

    Over 34 million residents of the United States aged 65 years and older are also Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries. Medical claims records for this age group potentially provide a wealth of data for better understanding influenza epidemiology.


    The purpose of this study was to evaluate data on oseltamivir dispensing extracted from medical claims records as an indicator of influenza activity in the United States for the 2010‐11 through 2014‐15 influenza seasons.


    We used Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) medical claims data to evaluate the weekly number of therapeutic oseltamivir prescriptions dispensed following a rapid influenza diagnostic test among beneficiaries 65 years old and older as an indicator of influenza timing and intensity. We compared the temporal changes in this indicator to changes in the proportion of influenza‐like illnesses among outpatient visits in the US Outpatient Influenza‐like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet) by administrative regions defined by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Using the moving epidemic method, we determined intensity thresholds and categorized the severity of seasons for both CMS and ILINet data.


    Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services oseltamivir data and ILINet data were strongly correlated by administrative region (median Spearman's ρ = 0.78; interquartile range = 0.73‐0.80). CMS oseltamivir data and ILINet data substantially agreed (Cohen's weighted κ = 0.62) as to the seasonal severity across administrative regions.


    Our results support the use of oseltamivir dispensing in medical claims data as an indicator of US influenza activity.

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