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Paper of the Day - Real life asthma prescribing differs from guidelines

The treatments prescribed for childhood asthma differs from treatment recommended in guidelines, according to an analysis of UK prescribing data.

The study found that there were 121,000 prescriptions for bronchodilator syrups between 2000 and 2006, even though they have systemic effects and are discouraged in the British Thoracic Society guidelines.

In addition the number of prescriptions for long acting beta agonists doubled over the study period, even though the recommendations suggest strict limits to their use.

And prescriptions for combination inhalers containing a steroid and a LABA rose from 2.6% of all asthma prescriptions to more than one in five. The current BTS guidelines recommend use of combinations only when inhaled steroids and beta agonists when required fail to control symptoms.

The persistent asthma for which combination inhalers are recommended in the guidelines accounts for only 5-10% of all cases, according to the researchers behind the study, from the Sydney Children's Hospital and the University of New South Wales.

Archives of Diseases in Childhood Online first September 4

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