'Improve education' call over asthma scrips

Inappropriate prescribing is hindering the management of childhood asthma, according to the latest UK research.

Figures for prescriptions issued for asthma drugs in the UK between 2000 and 2006 have shown that clinicians are not following asthma guidance issued by the British Thoracic Society (BTS).

BTS guidance discourages the use of oral bronchodilator agonist syrups because they have a systemic effect and fail to control asthma symptoms effectively.

But despite this, the researchers found that 121,000 prescriptions for oral syrups were written in 2006.

They also found that the total number of prescriptions for long-acting beta agonists (LABAs) increased over the six-year period from 2.6 per cent to 20.6 per cent.

However, BTS guidance does not recommend the use of LABAs in children under five and states that they should only be used when appropriate-dose steroid inhalers have failed to control asthma adequately.

Lead researcher Dr Adam Jaffe, consultant in respiratory med­icine at Sydney children's
hos­pital in Australia, said  although prescribing of oral syrups had dropped by 60 per cent over the six-year period, large quantities were being prescribed outside the BTS guidelines.

The BTS guideline on the management of asthma is an important document, which outlines the stepwise treatment of children with asthma, he said.

'Of additional concern is the increased prescribing of LABAs, which has almost doubled over the six-year period we studied.

'There is emerging evidence to suggest that some children may be at risk of increased asthma exacerbations if they are on regular LABAs.

'It should be reserved for those with persistent asthma, which represents about 5-10 per cent of children with asthma.

Arch Dis Child Online 2007

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