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Recession affects asthma sufferers

People suffering from asthma are struggling to pay for the medicine they need as a result of the recession, a charity has revealed.

Asthma UK reports that a survey of 1,000 patients showed that 37% are finding it difficult to pay for their prescriptions.

Meanwhile, Dr Ellen Schafheutle published a separate study in the Primary Care Respiratory Journal and found that some asthmatics are using their inhalers less frequently in an attempt to make them "last longer".

Dr Schafheutle also discovered that asthma sufferers' management decisions and control over their condition can be influenced by cost.

The study carried out by Asthma UK found that one in three of the 5.4 million asthma sufferers in the UK was unaware of Prescription Pre-Payment Certificates (PPCs). These help to reduce the costs for people who have to purchase more than four prescriptions in four months or 14 prescription-related items in a year.

Dr Mike Thomas, GP and chief medical adviser to Asthma UK, said: "I know of numerous cases where people have stretched or stopped using their preventer medicines to try to reduce prescription charge costs.

"Unfortunately, there isn't much that GPs can do other than increase the number of inhalers on a prescription, which can encourage waste and is discouraged by primary care trusts."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "PPCs entitle holders to obtain as many prescribed items as they need for £2 per week and the cost can be spread by direct debit."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Asthma UK

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Pre-payment certificates have saved me a small fortune, but I still feel asthma is a long-term condition the same as diabetes, for people on low incomes ie, working part time, pre-payment certificates should be reduced" - Alison Cant, Edinburgh