Australian Prescriber article on the cost of asthma medicines

SYDNEY: Professor Helen Reddel’s (Woolcock researcher) article published today in Australian Prescriber entitled ‘The cost of asthma medicines’ noted that combination inhalers increase the cost of treatment for people with asthma and may not provide extra benefit.

Most adults and adolescents with asthma require a daily preventer to effectively manage their condition. The common practice in Australia is to prescribe the more expensive combination preventer inhalers as initial treatment for asthma.  

Combination preventers contain two medications, a preventer to reduce airway inflammation and a long acting reliever.

The majority of people with asthma would achieve similar levels of asthma control using a regular preventer inhaler. This can also be a more cost effective option.

There are many reasons why people with asthma do not use preventer medication regularly. The cost of medicines is a significant factor in choosing a preventer inhaler to effectively manage asthma, or choosing a less effective, reactive, approach of using reliever medication to manage symptoms as they present.

Frequent use of reliever medication is not an effective solution to manage asthma and indicates the person is at an increased risk of having an asthma flare-up.

For many people, low dose inhaled corticosteroid is an effective treatment option and will reduce symptoms and the risk of severe flare-ups if it is taken regularly and correctly.

Asthma Australia encourages people with asthma to consult their doctor about preventer treatment options and appropriate device technique.