The National Asthma Council Australia has released a preview of an updated approach to initiating and adjusting asthma medication in adults and adolescents (aged 12 years and over) in the Australian Asthma Handbook.
The changes address the use of a low dose inhaled combination corticosteroid preventer and formoterol reliever on an as needed basis for patients with mild asthma, a new approach supported by evidence in almost 10,000 patients. Other advice in the stepped approach remains unchanged.
The Australian Asthma Handbook, published by the National Asthma Council, provides the national guidelines for asthma management in Australia.
The next update, which will also focus on the issue of underuse of preventer medicines by people with asthma and the corresponding over-reliance on reliever medications, will be published in the coming weeks.
“Very few adults and adolescents with asthma can maintain good asthma control relying solely on a short-acting reliever and nearly all adults with asthma will have better health outcomes and reduced risk of severe flare-ups through use of a preventer that contains an inhaled corticosteroid, which addresses the underlying lung inflammation,” said Professor Amanda Barnard, Chair of the Guidelines Committee.
"We welcome the new listing of low dose Symbicort and DuoResp Spiromax (budesonide/ formoterol)  as subsidised medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for as needed only use by adults and adolescents with mild asthma for its potential to facilitate the use of preventer medication by people who may otherwise over-rely on their reliever,”
“However, it’s important to note that short-acting relievers such as salbutamol remain an essential rescue medicine for their role in management of acute asthma and community first aid,” added Professor Barnard. “They still provide safe relief of symptoms when used with a regular inhaled corticosteroid preventer.”
Ms Siobhan Brophy, CEO of the National Asthma Council, said “The significant update on asthma management for adults and adolescents has been conducted by a multidisciplinary team of experts including primary care clinicians and respiratory specialists. The rigorous development included comprehensive review of evidence from recent clinical trials, consideration of the Australian health system context and deliberation on how recommendations would be implemented in primary care.”
“As part of the review process, we are consulting with and seeking endorsement from stakeholder groups such as the RACGP, APNA, PSA and TSANZ on the update. We are also seeking feedback on the implementation of the update from people with asthma,” Ms Brophy said.
The full Handbook update will include detailed guidance for implementation, practice tips and other updates.
Plans for health professional education are also underway to help in the implementation of the new guidelines.
The National Asthma Council Australia looks forward to sharing further development with its stakeholders.
Healthcare professionals are encouraged to access the previewed changes on the National Asthma Council Australia website.
Subscribe to the Council’s Health Professional newsletter for the latest information on the Australian Asthma Handbook.
Download: Preview of Selecting and adjusting medication for adults and adolescents (figure)
 Symbicort Turbuhaler® 200/6, Symbicort Rapihaler® 100/3 and DuoResp Spiromax 200/6
For further information or an interview with a National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson, please contact:
Lelde McCoy, The Reputation Group.
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