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Cost of asthma medicines affects more patients than previously suspected

Published online: March 27, 2019

Poor adherence with asthma medicines is a substantial global problem, particularly when patients have financial barriers. In the USA, asthma has been associated with some of the highest rates of cost-related underuse of medicines among older people, with calls to review how much of the cost individuals should be paying for their asthma medicines.

In a paper recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Laba and colleagues describe the extent of cost-related underuse of asthma medicines across all age groups of adults and parents of children with asthma in Australia - a country that has a universal medicines insurance scheme.

Within a large nationally representative population, over half of adults with asthma and over one third of parents of children with asthma reported reducing doses, skipping medicines, or not filling or refilling prescriptions. These rates are higher than those reported in previous studies. Cost-related underuse of asthma medicines was more common among younger patients, males, and those with concerns about medicines. It was also more common among patients/parents who were less engaged with their doctor or less comfortable talking to their doctor about medicine costs and decisions.

This study highlights the urgent need for targeting of interventions to promote the discussion of medicine costs between prescribers and their patients to address the unmet needs of poor adherence in asthma.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.