September 24, 2001
Two Studies Demonstrate Discrepancies Between Asthma
Patients' Expectations and Standards of Care
- The results of two patient surveys, one UK and one pan-European,
have shown that whilst the majority of asthma patients are satisfied with
the level of care they are receiving, many are in fact accepting sup-optimal
treatment which is having a detrimental impact upon their quality of
These findings provide strong evidence that the levels of asthma control,
both in the UK and Europe, continue to fall short of the goals set out in
international guidelines(3). The GINA guidelines define a well-controlled
patient as one which has minimal or no symptoms, has minimal asthma attacks,
does not need to use rescue treatment, shows normal nearly lung function and
is free from limitations on physical activity(3).
The UK AstraZeneca-sponsored survey - Living & Breathing - Putting Patients
First in Asthma - surveyed 517 people with mild to moderate asthma. The
findings revealed that 91% felt that their asthma was under control, despite
the fact that two thirds (66%) experienced symptoms at least two to three
times a week(1). Of these, 41% of respondents experienced symptoms daily(1).
The majority of patients (86%) also recognised that their asthma varies in
severity throughout the year.(1)
The pan-European survey - RESPONSE (Respiratory Patients Opinion Survey) -
surveyed 454 asthmatics and parents of asthmatic children aged 12-16 years.
Eighty three per cent of respondents described their own or their child's
asthma as 'quite well' or 'very well controlled(2). Nevertheless, more than
two thirds had suffered symptoms such as coughing, wheezing or difficulty
breathing in the previous week(2).
The surveys also demonstrated that people with asthma wanted to be more in
control of their condition. They wanted access to simple, effective
treatment regimens that fitted in with their lifestyles, which involve
taking fewer drugs and using fewer inhalers. In both the UK and pan-European
surveys, around 80% patients found the idea of a reduced number of inhalers
appealing(1), (2). However, while patients want to take fewer drugs and use
less inhalers, when they visit their GP following an exacerbation they often
receive more treatments(2).
According to Dr Martyn Partridge, Consultant Chest Physician at Whipps Cross
University Hospital and Medical Advisor to the National Asthma Campaign in
the UK, this research generates important questions about how asthma
treatment is prescribed and delivered. "This research clearly shows we have
a long way to go. Patients need simple, but effective tailored treatment
regimens that fit with their daily lives. With new treatments such as the
steroid / long acting bronchodilator combination, which contains a preventer
and controller treatment in a single inhaler, we now have the ability to
further improve the level of care we can provide to asthma patients. We must
ensure that whenever possible their lives aren't limited by their
condition," he said.
Symbicort(r) (budesonide/eformoterol) Turbohaler(r), the new maintenance
therapy for adult asthma from AstraZeneca, contains the inhaled
corticosteroid, budesonide, and the fast-acting and long-acting
bronchodilator, eformoterol, in a single inhaler. The dose can be adjusted
according to the patient's symptom control.