Inhalers underused and overused: Report

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

There is substantial over- and under-use of certain medications for asthma and COPD, reveals a new report from the Australian Centre for Airways disease Monitoring.

Prescription respiratory medications were dispensed to over 2 million people in Australia in 2013 but figures from the report, Respiratory medication use in Australia 2003-2013: treatment of asthma and COPD showed that contrary to guidelines people only used them occasionally.

Inhaled corticosteroids were the most common type of prescribed respiratory medication, dispensed to 1.4 million people.

However among people aged 65 and over only 30% of those who were dispensed any inhaled corticosteroid appeared to use it regularly over the course of a year, the report showed.

Among people aged 35-64, 16% of those dispensed any inhaled corticosteroids appeared to use it regularly, while among those aged 15-34 the figure was 7%.

The report also suggests over-use of some respiratory medications, with figures showing that over one-third (36%) of adults dispensed inhaled corticosteroids received only one prescription, and among these, 59% were dispensed no other respiratory medication.

“The report is concerning on two fronts-that some respiratory medications are not being taken regularly by people who would benefit from doing so, and that there appears to be a level of unnecessary prescribing for some patients”, said Professor Guy Marks, Director of ACAM.

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