GPs should offer a course of leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRA) instead of a combination inhaler when stepping up asthma control, recommends NICE in draft guidance.
Current practice is to offer combined long-acting beta-agonist and inhaled steroid treatment to patients with persistent asthma symptoms, but NICE now say that GPs should consider using an oral LTRA first.
If a person’s asthma remains uncontrolled with LTRAs then they can add or move to combination inhalers. Children under five should be referred to a specialist if adding LTRA has not controlled their symptoms.
NICE estimates that £3m a year could be saved for every 10,000 people who take up the new recommendation and the guidance is out for public consultation until 16 February 2017.
Professor Mark Baker, director of the NICE centre for guidelines said: "Millions of people need treatment for their asthma which comes at a price. We also need to make sure that we make the best use of NHS resources and our guidance is the first to set out what the most clinical and cost-effective options for treating asthma are.
"We now want to hear from all those who provide care for people with asthma in the NHS to ensure that the views of those this guidance will affect are fully considered."