Thanks to the Federal Government, kids with debilitating severe asthma have ready access to a medication that could significantly improve the way they breathe, listing Spiriva® Respimat® (tiotropium bromide) on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

From March 2019 the PBS will subsidise the cost of Spiriva Respimat for use by children aged 6 to 17 years, to relieve asthma symptoms alongside other treatments.

The cost of Spiriva Respimat will now retail for approximately $40 or $6.50 for concession patients. The severe asthma treatment was originally added to the PBS in 2016 for use by adults, leaving families to pay full fee.

Asthma Australia welcomes the support by the Federal Government in addressing the cost of severe asthma medication particularly for families who can struggle to make ends meet.

“Severe asthma medications are life-saving and for this particular medication, people were paying in excess of $600 per year,” said CEO of Asthma Australia Michele Goldman.

“Improving access to Spiriva will most certainly improve childhoods of Australian kids with severe asthma and their families.  Breathing better could mean being able to attend dance classes or playing more actively with friends.

“The cost of medication can prevent people from accessing the treatments they need. Asthma medication should be accessible to everyone, we will continue to work towards achieving this goal. We applaud the Federal Government for their support thus far,” Ms Goldman said.

The Federal Government funds roughly $485 million on treatments for respiratory conditions through the PBS every year.

Asthma affects more than 11 percent of Australians, or 2.7 million people. Approximately 5-10% of people with asthma are classified as having severe asthma. And approximately 30,000 of these are children. Those with severe asthma experience the most burden in terms of hospital presentations, exacerbations, and impact on quality of life.

Spiriva Respimat, is an add-on therapy for children aged 6 years and over and adults with severe asthma.

Asthma Australia advises that respiratory specialists prescribe this medicine as part of a stepped approach for adjusting asthma medication in children and in conjunction with clear and regular device instruction.

For more information about severe asthma diagnosis and treatment visit https://asthma.org.au/about-asthma/severe-asthma/, call the free 1800 ASTHMA service to speak to an Asthma Educator, or speak to your doctor.

About Triotropium

Spiriva Respimat (tiotropium bromide) is an inhaled asthma medication which belongs to a group of medicines called long-acting muscarinic antagonists (abbreviated as LAMA). They are sometimes called ‘anti-muscarinics’. These medicines block a receptor in the lungs and relaxes tiny muscles in airways that have tightened, keeping airways open for several hours.  Tiotropium therefore can make breathing easier or reduce flare-ups for some patients.

It is a once daily, inhaled medicine and should only be used in addition to the conventional preventer treatments (usually inhaled corticosteroids or montelukast) – it does not replace preventer or reliever medication.

Tiotropium is delivered via a small device called the ‘respimat’ which works similarly to a metered dose inhaler. Prescribers and pharmacists dispensing tiotropium for children need to ensure that the child is able to use the device effectively. Respimat device instruction is available here.

For more information see the Consumer Medicine Information sheet here.