Many with Asthma Not Using Drugs Correctly

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J., May 11 (UPI) — Despite years of U.S. government warnings against asthma patients taking long-acting beta agonists alone, one-third of patients still do, researchers say.

Guidelines of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommend asthma patients use long-acting beta agonists in combination with inhaled corticosteroids or leukotriene modifiers. The long-acting beta agonists used alone increases risks of asthma-related hospitalizations, intubations and death, the guidelines say.

Researchers of the pharmacy Medco Health Solutions, Inc., find that 31 percent of asthma patients who were prescribed either Severent or Foradil last year were taking the long-acting beta agonists alone and not in combination with other asthma control.

Patients who were treated from an allergist or pulmonologist were 43 percent less likely to be treated with long-acting beta agonists alone than those who received treatment from a general practitioner, the study finds.

“We’ve identified a gap in care that needs to be shared with the medical community in order to improve patient health and reduce the rate of preventable hospitalizations and emergency room visits,” Dr. Peter Juhn, president of the Medco Therapeutic Resource Centers, says in a statement.

Each year asthmatic attacks cause 500,000 U.S. hospitalizations, 217,000 hospital emergency room visits and more than 4,000 deaths, Juhn says.

The findings of the study by the Medco Research Institute and the Medco Pulmonary Therapeutic Resource Center were presented at the Eastern Allergy Conference.

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