Woolcock Wins $2.2M Grant to Support Asthma Battlers

Australians living with poorly controlled asthma will get a boost from their local pharmacist thanks to a $2.2million grant that backs an innovative Woolcock initiative. 

The Federal Government has announced it will fund a new Pharmacy Asthma Service trial that targets patients most at risk of dangerous asthma flair-ups.

The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research will establish the service in partnership with University of Sydney, Curtin University, University of Tasmania, National Asthma Council,  Asthma Australia, Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and The George Institute.

Woolcock Executive Director Professor Carol Armour says the service offers a unique opportunity to get asthma under control in the community. “We’ll be focused squarely on that at-risk group of patients that carry the highest burden of disease and are most likely to wind up in emergency departments with out-of control asthma symptoms,” Professor Armour says. “Under this new model, community pharmacists working at the coal face will be skilled up to identify these patients, find out why their asthma is poorly controlled and help them manage their condition.”

The pharmacists will support these at-risk patients with three private consultations over 12 months to make sure they don’t keep falling through the cracks. “Central to this support is ensuring they’re taking their medication regularly, using their inhaler correctly, and checking their hay fever to see if it could be exacerbating their asthma,” Professor Armour says. Those patients with complex issues or unknown causes will be referred to their GP.

If the trial proves successful the consortium hope to roll out the trial to more communities across Australia.

The grant, entitled Getting Asthma Under Control Using the Skills of the Community Pharmacist, will be funded to the tune of $2,199,100 over two years. It was announced by the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt at the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Conference in Sydney on July 28.