Tags: asthma | inhalers | daily | unnecessary

Millions Don’t Need Daily Asthma Inhalers

Tuesday, 18 Sep 2012 11:54 AM


Millions of mild asthma patients who use steroid inhalers daily to control attacks may be wasting their money, new research suggests.
Health experts at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found people who use corticosteroids prescribed daily do no better than those who use them only when symptoms occur.
These findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggest changing current treatment guidelines could result in new international standards of care, reduce patients' pharmacy costs, limit long-term exposure to corticosteroids, and enable greater flexibility in managing the condition.
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"The discovery that these two courses of treatment do not differ significantly could eventually change the way doctors and patients manage asthma, providing an option that is easier to follow and possibly less expensive," said lead resesarcher Dr. William J. Calhoun, an internal medicine specialist at UTMB. "Our findings build on a considerable foundation of research in the field and come at a time when asthma cases are rising at an alarming rate – especially in lower-income communities."
About 25 million people in the United States suffer from asthma; the disease costs about $3,300 per person each year in medical expenses, missed days of school and work, and early deaths.
Doctors typically recommend that people with asthma take a twice-daily dose of an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS), such as beclomethasone or fluticasone, supplemented with "rescue" doses of albuterol to open the airways during attacks.
But the new study, involving 340 adults with mild-to-moderate asthma, found adjusting treatments to be given only when needed – at half the usual doses and only when symptoms occurred – controlled attacks as well as the twice-daily doses.
"The current protocol of daily ICS use is effective but the flexibility and immediate probable cost savings for asthma medicine that a symptom-based approach may offer will appeal to many patients," said Calhoun. "We hope our findings prompt patients to talk with their doctors and become more active participants in effectively managing their condition."
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Millions of asthma patients who use steroid inhalers daily to control attacks may be wasting their money, new research suggests.
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Tuesday, 18 Sep 2012 11:54 AM
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