Better patient care through new asthma strategy

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    In the Philippines, we have an estimated 21 million Filipinos who are asthmatic. Asthma deaths accounts to 2.37 percent of total deaths putting Philippines second in asthma mortality in the world across all ages. 20-30 percent of total asthma cases account for mild asthma. Among patients with mild asthma, there is an estimated 33-41 percent hospitalized in the emergency setting according to a study on asthma control in the Asia-Pacific region where Philippines was part of the respondents.

    After 30 years, the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) 2020 has a new approach to asthma management. For safety, GINA no longer recommends treatment with short-acting beta 2 agonists (SABA) alone. SABA is no longer the preferred reliever treatment because the overuse of SABA is associated with an increased risk of severe asthma attacks. Low dose ICS-formoterol is now the preferred reliever across asthma severities for patients prescribed maintenance and reliever therapy.

    In the Philippines, Budesonide/Formoterol or ICS/Formoterol is now an approved anti-inflammatory reliever across the entire asthma disease spectrum, including mild asthma. It is indicated in the treatment of asthma to achieve overall asthma control, including the prevention and relief of symptoms as well as the reduction of the risk of asthma attacks.

    The treatment strategy for asthma patients must go beyond short-term symptomatic relief by addressing the root problem in asthma, which is inflammation. As shared by Prof. Timothy Ward Harrison, Professor of Asthma and Respiratory Medicine at the University of Nottingham and Head of Respiratory Medicine at Nottingham University Hospital in the United Kingdom. “We need two medications for optimal asthma treatment: a bronchodilator that opens the airways and provides quick symptom relief, and an inhaled steroid to deal with the inflammation.”

    This was supported by Prof. Camilo C. Roa, Full Professor and Past Chairman, Department of Physiology, University of the Philippines College of Medicine; and Past President, Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP) saying that “A treatment that combines an anti-inflammatory medication with a reliever medication can enhance medication adherence in Filipino patients with asthma thereby improving outcomes and preventing asthma-related mortality.”

    “Budesonide + Formoterol has the potential to completely transform asthma management.

    Physicians want patients to take the inhaled steroid to control the inflammation, but patients want to take the reliever medication because it gives the quick symptomatic relief that they want. By combining an inhaled steroid and a reliever medication in one inhaler, you get the best asthma treatment that keeps both patients and physicians happy,” Prof. Harrison explained.

    Prof. Roa urged local pulmonologists and primary care physicians to follow the latest GINA 2020 Strategy in order to enhance outcomes in Filipino patients with asthma.

    In response to this serious problem, AstraZeneca Philippines, through its Juan Healthy Lung Philippines, is bringing together relevant stakeholders in enhancing asthma management capabilities and reducing the asthma burden and mortality among Filipino patients.