In response to Budget 2020 announcements by Minister for Health Simon Harris, the Asthma Society of Ireland has expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of substantive measures to tackle the financial burden of medications on people with asthma.
The organisation has been calling over successive budgets for the cost of asthma medication to be urgently reduced.
Ireland has the fourth highest prevalence of asthma worldwide with approximately 470,000 people affected (1 in 8 of population). Asthma is the commonest chronic disease in childhood and the most common respiratory condition here.
Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland, said, “The high costs of controller medication means many forgo taking it and rely instead on reliever inhalers when experiencing an attack, which is extremely dangerous. Reliever inhalers are often insufficient to combat severe asthma attacks. Overreliance on reliever medications can further exacerbate the condition, leading to higher rates of hospitalisation and even death. Ultimately, poor use of controller medication due to high costs is resulting in significant and wholly avoidable repercussions for both the patient and the State.”
The Asthma Society also called on the Minister to establish a funding model for high-tech severe-asthma treatments in Budget 2020, which are needed by a small cohort of the population but which prove life-changing for suitable patients.
Ms O’Connnor continued, “For severe asthma patients, biologic medications can mean the difference between completely debilitating symptoms and frequent hospitalisation, or potentially leading a happy, healthy and full life. Yet, in Ireland, access to these medications is dependent on each hospital’s pharmacy budget so, for five hundred or so patients with severe asthma suitable for biologic treatment, it is not need that determines whether they receive this life-changing medication, but where they live.”