Last updated on 31/08/2020


Issued: Thursday 27 August 2020

Media release provided for consumers by GSK

New VENTOLIN (salbutamol sulfate) inhalers with dose counter reimbursed on the PBS for Australians

GSK Australia is pleased to announce that a dose counter has been added to VENTOLIN (salbutamol sulfate) metered dose inhalers for Australian patients living with asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The updated inhalers are reimbursed via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and have been available in pharmacies from 1 August 2020 with a transition period.

More than 2.7 million Australians are living with diagnosed asthma[1], and in 2017–18, there were approximately 38,792 hospitalisations related to asthma[2]. In addition, COPD affects an estimated 464,000 Australians aged 45 and over, and in 2016-17[3], there were approximately 78,100 hospitalisations of people in this group related to COPD[4].

The integration of a dose counter with the VENTOLIN inhaler will allow patients to view the number of doses remaining in their inhalers. This important update for Australian patients will enable better monitoring of medication usage and ensure there are doses remaining when they need them”.

There will be a transition to VENTOLIN with dose counter over the next few months, while existing stock of VENTOLIN continues to be sold in pharmacies. While Australians may see limited availability of VENTOLIN with dose counter in the early months, the full transition is expected to be complete by the end of 2020. After this time, all VENTOLIN inhalers available will have a dose counter.

According to Professor Adam Jaffe, Professor of Paediatrics and Respiratory Paediatrician, the integration of VENTOLIN with a dose counter is a timely and positive development for Australians living with obstructive airway diseases like asthma.

“The ability to know how much VENTOLIN is left in the puffer can help patients manage their asthma. The addition of the dose counter means that patients can ensure they have a puffer available with remaining doses if needed in an asthma flare up,” said Professor Jaffe.

“While patients will benefit from understanding the exact number of doses left in a puffer, it is important to note that the medicine itself has not changed – simply the integration of a dose counter. Patients should speak with their healthcare professional about their transition to dose counter inhaler, as it takes place over the remainder of 2020.”

As-needed reliever therapies, such as VENTOLIN, continue to play an important role in the management of lung conditions, such as asthma.

Many asthma patients will utilise daily preventer therapy as part of their individual asthma action plan, but will also keep an as-needed reliever therapy on hand to help manage any flare-ups in symptoms. Daily preventer therapies are taken to assist in reducing asthma symptoms and the risk of asthma-related exacerbations, hospitalisation and death5, and as part of a patient’s individual asthma action plan6.

Michele Goldman, CEO of Asthma Australia said a dose counter is a practical addition to the well- known reliever, particularly in times of an emergency.

“Asthma relievers are an effective medication to quickly relieve symptoms and in Asthma First
Aid,” said Ms Goldman. “As such, people with asthma will often have several relievers in various places, making it easy to lose track of how much medication remains in each canister. The new dose counter will definitely help take the guess work out, and may cut down on wastage too.

“Needing to administer a reliever more than two days in a week is usually a sign that
someone’s asthma is getting the better of them, adding to burden of asthma on their life. If this is the case people should see their doctor for a review,” she added.

Dr Andrew Weekes, Medical Director at GSK Australia, said that the PBS listing of VENTOLIN with a dose counter is an important milestone both for the treatment of patients with obstructive airway diseases and GSK.

“I am personally delighted that Australians with obstructive airway diseases like asthma and COPD will have access to VENTOLIN with dose counter. As they are phased in over the coming months, the VENTOLIN dose counter inhalers will give patients a much clearer view of their usage,” said Dr Weekes.

“This development reflects GSK’s commitment to continuous innovation for patients. Incremental innovation like this at such scale takes time and energy to effect. This has been an ambition of the GSK Australia team for some time and so it is a particular honour to be part of this announcement.”


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019, Asthma: who gets asthma? Available at: (Accessed July 2020)
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019, Separation statistics by principle diagnosis (ICD-10-AM 10th edition), Australia 2017-18. Canberra: AIHW. (Accessed July 2020)
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019, COPD: who gets COPD? Available at: (Accessed July 2020)
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019, COPD: treatment and management. Available at: (Accessed July 2020)
  5. Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) 2020, Global strategy for asthma management and preventionreport. Available at: (Accessed July 2020)
  6. Asthma Australia 2020, Emergency Asthma. Available at: (accessed July 2020)
  7. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care – The Second Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation: Chronic disease and infection (2017) Available at: (Accessed July 2020)
  8. Parsons et al. 2013, An official American Thoracic Society clinical practice guideline: exercise- induced bronchoconstriction. Am J Respir Crit Care Med; 187: 1016-27
  9. Ventolin Product Information