Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.

Join

Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Prescription charges

Charity launches campaign to stop prescription charges for people with asthma

A survey by Asthma UK found that three-quarters of patients who have to pay for prescriptions to treat their asthma struggle to afford them and more than half of people with asthma had cut back on medication because of the cost.

Asthma pump

Source: Shutterstock.com

Of those people who had cut back on their medication because of the cost, more than 80% said it had made their asthma symptoms worse and 24% said it resulted in them having an asthma attack

Asthma UK is calling for Matt Hancock, health and social care secretary, to stop “unfair” prescription charges in England, so that people with asthma no longer have to “pay to breathe”.

The charity said that three-quarters of patients who have to pay for asthma prescriptions struggle to afford them, exacerbating inequalities for people with asthma.

In November 2018, Asthma UK carried out the “largest ever” survey on asthma prescription charges and gathered responses from more than 9,000 people.

The survey found that three out of four people with asthma who have to pay for their prescriptions have struggled to afford them, and 35% of respondents had, at times, needed to cut back on food to be able to pay for their asthma medication.

The survey also revealed that more than half (57%) of people who pay for their prescriptions have, at some point, cut back on their medication owing to the cost. Furthermore, more than 80% of respondents said that cutting back on their medication had made their asthma symptoms worse and 24% said it resulted in them having an asthma attack.

Regional variations were also identified in the survey. In the north east of England, 81% of people with asthma said they were struggling to afford their medication, compared with 70% in London.

“Prescription charges are an unfair ‘tax’ on people with asthma — a long-term condition that is not controllable without medication for life,” Asthma UK said in its report ‘Paying to breathe: why unfair asthma prescription charges must be stopped’, published on 26 February 2019.

The charity has also launched a petition calling for the scrapping of prescription charges for asthma medication.

Toby Capstick, a consultant pharmacist in respiratory medicine and chair of the UK Clinical Pharmacy Association Respiratory Group, said the evidence from the survey “overwhelmingly” demonstrated that prescription charges are a significant barrier for patients accessing and adhering to treatment.

“It is shocking to read how the survey describes how prescription charges impact on everyday life, with many reporting that they have had to cut back on food and spending on their children to afford regular prescription charges, and how this also disproportionally affects low-income families.”

However, he said it was important to bear in mind that, ordinarily, 52% of people in England pay for their prescriptions, while the percentage of responders to the survey who paid for their prescriptions was 84%.

“This suggests that there may be some responder bias in the survey and may overestimate the actual position,” Capstick said.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is calling for free prescriptions in England. In response to the government’s announcement that prescription charges would be increased to £9 per item from 1 April 2019, Sandra Gidley, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, said: “Every day, pharmacists are asked by patients who are unable to afford all the items on their prescription which ones they could ‘do without’. Patients shouldn’t have to make choices which involve rationing their medicines.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206213

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • Essentials of Economic Evaluation in Healthcare

    Essentials of Economic Evaluation in Healthcare

    An introduction to economic evaluation specific to healthcare, for those with little or no knowledge of economics. Covers cost effectiveness, cost utility and cost benefit analysis.

    £33.00Buy now
  • Sport and Exercise Medicine for Pharmacists

    Sport and Exercise Medicine for Pharmacists

    All the information you need to provide patients with evidence-based advice on sports and exercise related health matters.

    £27.00Buy now
  • Paediatric Drug Handling

    Paediatric Drug Handling

    Written for new pharmaceutical scientists, this book provides a background in paediatric pharmacy and a comprehensive introduction to children's medication.

    £33.00Buy now
  • Drugs and the Liver

    Drugs and the Liver

    Drugs and the Liver assists practitioners in making pragmatic choices for their patients. It enables you to assess liver function and covers the principles of drug use in liver disease.

    £38.00Buy now
  • Non-prescription Medicines

    Non-prescription Medicines

    Reviews over-the-counter medicines, arranged by the conditions they are licensed to treat. Includes product recommendations.

    £38.00Buy now

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.