Credit crunch leaves asthma patients unable to afford inhalers

Over a third of asthma patients are struggling to afford their inhalers, according to a survey by Asthma UK.

The poll of 1,000 UK asthma patients found that 37% of respondents are finding it hard to afford their prescriptions for asthma medication and that the situation has been made worse since the start of the recession.

A separate study of 30 patients by researchers at Manchester University found that patients are making dangerous decisions to stretch or even skip doses of their inhalers because they cannot afford to pay for them.

Worryingly, the majority of patients said that they would not raise the issue with their GP.

Dr Mike Thomas, GP and chief medical adviser to Asthma UK, said: ‘I know of numerous cases where people have stretched or stopped using their preventer medicines to try to reduce prescription charge costs.

‘This is often because they notice the immediate effects of relievers more than the potent long-term effects of their preventers. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that GPs can do other than increase the number of inhalers on a prescription, which can encourage waste and is discouraged by PCTs.’

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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