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

We need more investment in diagnostics for asthma

Recent headlines in national media have declared that asthma is ‘overdiagnosed and trivialised’. But as I am sure your readers know, these news stories are masking a deeper issue: there is no simple diagnostic test for asthma. It is shocking that in the 21st century we still do not have a simple test to be able to tell if someone has asthma, a condition so common that, on average, there are three pupils with asthma in each classroom in the UK. In fact, the UK has among the highest prevalence rates of asthma symptoms in children worldwide.

If you cannot be sure of a diagnosis, how can you give patients the right care or treatment they need to manage their condition? This is the challenge healthcare professionals face every day. But we also need to tackle the complacency that has set in around asthma, as the Royal College of Physicians identified in the National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) in May 2014.

More than a million people missed their annual asthma review in 2015 and only 35% of people with asthma have a written asthma action plan, despite research showing that people who use one are four times less likely to be admitted to hospital because of their asthma. We all need to work together to tackle complacency and to stop people needlessly dying from preventable asthma attacks. People with asthma must work in partnership with their GP, nurse and pharmacist to build up a complete picture of their asthma, and ensure they are on the right treatment and follow a written asthma action plan.

In the longer term we need effective ways to diagnose people to enable to us to put the right people on the right treatments. An accurate diagnosis is the starting point from where we can get people on the right treatment, and then review and support their management over time. Without a diagnosis, there will always be the potential for people to be on the wrong treatment, possibly for many years, which could lead to poor outcomes and even avoidable deaths. More investment in new diagnostics for asthma is desperately needed to allow this ambition to become a reality.

Samantha Walker

Director of Research and Policy

Asthma UK

 

Citation: Clinical Pharmacist DOI: 10.1211/CP.2016.20201032

Readers' comments (1)

  • Another essential role for pharmacists to support best care in asthma is that of feeding back to prescribers when we suspect/know there are problems with adherence (unintentional/deliberate) or where we consider the management to be suboptimal (eg not following BTS/SIGN guidelines). While this may feel like a breach of patient confidentiality or undermine the professionalism of the prescriber, having attempted to address the issues with the patient directly, can you ethically continue to dispense inappropriately large numbers of SABA inhalers for example?

    The press were keen to describe the NRAD report under headlines proclaiming "unsafe prescribing", but how many of us would be guilty of perpetuating this through "unsafe dispensing"?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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

RPS publications

Pharmaceutical Press is the publishing division of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, and is a leading provider of authoritative pharmaceutical information used throughout the world.

Visit rpharms.com

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.