A major change for people with mild asthma

Do you have mild asthma? Has your doctor prescribed you reliever medication to treat your mild asthma symptoms?

From the 1st June 2020 Symbicort Turbuhaler 200/6 and Symbicort Rapihaler 100/3 are now PBS listed for all asthma severities – mild, moderate and severe and available to Australians from 12 years and over.

Dr John Blakey, Respiratory Physician, explains what the excitement is all about.  

Why is this important?
Many thousands of people across Western Australia experience troublesome breathlessness and have to make unscheduled visits to their GP or hospital because they are not taking preventative treatment for asthma. We’ve known for many years that just taking a short-acting reliever like salbutamol (Ventolin) when needed will not get asthma under control. People with “mild asthma” can and do have unexpected severe attacks.

How do we know this will help?
There have been large research trials showing that using a combination inhaler (reliever and preventer together) as needed leads to better asthma control and fewer severe asthma attacks than using a reliever alone. The international guidelines for asthma changed last year to advise that people with mild asthma should take an as-needed combination inhaler, and nobody should just use salbutamol.

What has changed?
A combination inhaler (Symbicort) is now on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for as-needed use. This is a major change to how we treat mild asthma and will lead to better control for many people.

What do you need to do?
If you routinely use a regular preventer inhaler for your asthma and your control is good, then keep going with the same treatment. If you aren’t prescribed a preventer, or you don’t take it regularly, or your control isn’t good then please see your GP. You can then have a discussion with them about what will suit you best. The new way of using Symbicort isn’t for everyone but will be very helpful for many people. If your GP has any questions, they can contact me for further advice.

Do you need to speak to the Asthma WA Respiratory Health Team?
Asthma WA has a FREE telephone Helpline available for people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Our team can help you with:

  • understanding your asthma/COPD
  • understanding how to take your medications
  • identifying your triggers
  • advice on how to reduce your risk of catching COVID-19 or the influenza virus
  • asthma and COPD education for individuals

You can also access our usual education and support services via telephone and/or telehealth.

Call and speak to our Respiratory Health Team on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462), Monday to Friday.

Share this Post