Deaths preventable if reach of asthma medicines increased

May 2, 2018 by Anna Kellett, University of Auckland
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Around the world an estimated 1,000 people a day die of asthma related conditions, with some 340 million affected by this common chronic disease.

In New Zealand more than 521,000 people are taking medicines for asthma − one in nine adults and one in seven . It causes a death here every week.

World Asthma Day is marked on 1 May, and internationally, medical professionals and researchers are taking the opportunity to draw attention to this too common chronic disease. It can be found in every country but has particularly harsh consequences in places where people have limited access to medicines because they cost too much are not prescribed, or are not available in pharmacies.

Professor Innes Asher of the University of Auckland is the Chair of the Global Asthma Network and received an ONZM in 2012 for her work in paediatrics. In 2017 she was appointed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an Expert on Chronic Respiratory Diseases.

She heads the international work of the Global Asthma Network that is aiming to better understand the impact of asthma around the world, involving 353 centres in 135 countries. Phase I of the Global Asthma Network is underway, involving children in primary and secondary schools and their parents. Its aim is to better understand how common and severe asthma is, how it is being managed, and what the risk factors are. The results of this study will become available in 2019.

"Asthma affects people of all ages in all parts of the world. Symptoms can include significant difficulty in breathing, which makes ordinary activities extraordinarily hard. It affects daily like going to school, working at a job, looking after children or aging parents, exercising, or even just walking," Professor Innes says.

"There are high costs of poorly controlled asthma, including for acute treatment at the doctor, health centre or hospital, lost productivity of people with asthma or parents of children with asthma, and lost education of children who are too unwell to attend school. This amounts to billions of dollars lost to society."

In New Zealand, more than 3,000 children each year are being admitted to hospital with asthma, and some of these will have had a potentially life-threatening attack. Across all age groups, hospitalisation rates are much higher for Pacific peoples (3.1 times higher) and Maori (2.4 times higher) than for other ethnic groups. Asthma costs New Zealand around $800 million each year.

Professor Asher says the good news is that asthma can be treated, as there are essential asthma medicines of proven benefit, but without medicines, are more likely to be disabled or die from it.

"It is vital that governments continue to develop coherent policies to enhance access to effective asthma medicines. Health leaders must aim to get essential asthma medicines included on the World Health Organization's List of Prequalified Medicinal Products have them on all national essential medicines lists, and have these medicines quality-assured, available and affordable in all countries."

"The Global Asthma Network, established in 2012, is working worldwide to reduce the burden of through improving management, research, surveillance and capacity building and strives to achieve global access to quality-assured essential medicines."

Explore further: Taking less asthma medicine can be done safely with guidance Mayo Clinic study says

Related Stories

Taking less asthma medicine can be done safely with guidance Mayo Clinic study says

October 22, 2015
Stepping down asthma medicines can be done safely and at less cost for patients says a new Mayo Clinic study published this week in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. It is common for patients and doctors to ...

FDA removes boxed warning from certain asthma medications

December 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—New evidence regarding safety is spurring the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to remove a Boxed Warning from certain inhaled medications used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Maternal uncontrolled asthma ups risk of asthma in offspring

July 17, 2017
(HealthDay)—Children whose mothers have uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy are at increased risk of developing the disease at a young age, according to a study published online July 13 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical ...

Asthma attacks on the decline among U.S. kids

February 6, 2018
(HealthDay)—Fewer U.S. children are having to deal with asthma attacks in recent years, federal health officials reported Tuesday.

Eczema plus family history can mean a longer hospital stay for kids with asthma

October 27, 2017
Asthma and allergies are related, and many people who suffer from asthma have allergies that trigger their asthma. Research being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's (ACAAI) Annual Scientific ...

Study links optimal asthma control with reduced health-care costs

November 10, 2016
In a study of 736 asthma patients in Singapore, good asthma control resulted in a saving of S$65 (US$48) per physician visit. Compared with an average cost of S$214 (US$158) per visit, this reduction represents a cost saving ...

Recommended for you

Nicotine mimics may have therapeutic effect on inflammatory diseases

July 12, 2018
Stanford researchers discovered that a receptor that binds to nicotine and to clusters of beta-amyloid molecules is found on certain types of immune cells that can act as suppressors and regulators of the immune system.

Study shows BPA risk factor for inflammatory bowel disease

July 5, 2018
A recent study in a preclinical model of inflammatory bowel disease shows dietary exposure to bisphenol-A, or BPA, found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, can increase mortality and worsen its symptoms.

Mid- to late-life increases in marker of chronic inflammation tied to dementia

July 2, 2018
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have added to evidence that rising and chronic inflammation as measured by a biomarker in the blood in middle and late age are linked to visible structural changes in the brains of people with ...

Research team diagnoses asthma with nasal brush test

June 11, 2018
Mount Sinai researchers have identified a genetic biomarker of asthma that can be tested for using a simple nasal brush and basic follow-up data analysis. This inexpensive diagnostic test can accurately identify mild to moderate ...

Eosinophilic esophagitis may be due to missing protein

June 7, 2018
Scientists have discovered that the absence of a specific protein in cells lining the esophagus may cause inflammation and tissue damage in people with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). EoE affects as many as 150,000 people ...

Mouse study links triclosan, a common antimicrobial, to colonic inflammation

May 30, 2018
A large research team led by senior author Guodong Zhang at the University of Massachusetts Amherst reports that the antimicrobial ingredient triclosan, found in hand soaps and toothpastes among other products, could have ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.