Mild asthma anti-inflammatory reliever puffer lists on PBS

Asthma Australia is welcoming the listing of an anti-inflammatory reliever medicine as an option for people with mild asthma, listed as a subsidised medicine on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme today.

The anti-inflammatory reliever, which will be available as either Symbicort Turbuhaler 200/6, Symbicort Rapihaler 100/3 or DuoResp Spiromax (containing the active ingredients budesonide/formoterol), must be prescribed by a doctor for use by Australian adults and adolescents (over 12 years for Symbicort, and over 18 years for DuoResp Spiromax) with mild asthma to treat symptoms as needed.

CEO of Asthma Australia Michele Goldman welcomed the announcement saying, “It gives people with mild asthma a new option to treat their symptoms when they occur.”

“People with mild asthma often treat asthma as a short-term condition because symptoms can come and go. They may rely more heavily on a blue or grey reliever puffer rather than a daily preventer, which aims to reduce or stop symptoms from occurring in the first place.”

Asthma is a lifelong inflammatory condition of the airways that, if untreated, can lead to severe symptoms and impact people’s quality of life including their overall lung health. It is also a common cause of preventable emergency department visits and hospitalisations.

Currently, mild asthma affects approximately one million Australians and is associated with 15 per cent of all annual deaths, which is more than one death a week.

Treatment options for mild asthma had previously included daily preventer medication and/or use of a short-acting reliever puffer, as needed.

This new option strengthens that approach, providing a dose of reliever that works quickly – within 3-4 minutes and lasts up to 12 hours, and an inhaled corticosteroid medication to treat the inflammation.

“People now have this other treatment option which combines the therapeutic benefits of both the classical reliever and preventer, in those problem periods, as needed,” Ms Goldman said.

“What we hope to see is more adults with mild asthma experiencing less symptoms and living better, safer lives at lower risk from their condition. We know everyone’s asthma and life circumstances are different so people should have an in-depth conversation with their doctor about their treatment options,” she added

Signs of poorly controlled asthma include getting symptoms or using reliever puffer on two or more days in a week; having night time asthma symptoms or experiencing limitations in regular activity due to asthma symptoms – which include wheezing, shortness of breath, persistent coughing or tightness in the chest.

“People should absolutely consult their doctor if they are experiencing regular asthma symptoms,” Ms Goldman said.

The National Asthma Council of Australia’s Australian Asthma Handbook, which provides the national clinical guidelines for asthma management, is currently being reviewed to provide clinical guidance on best practice use of the anti-inflammatory reliever.

To speak to an asthma educator about these changes or if you have questions about asthma, please call us on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462)