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Over half of asthma patients skip medication due to prescription charges



More than half of patients with asthma skip their medication due to prescription costs, according to a new study.

A survey of 9,000 patients – conducted by Asthma UK – found 50% reported not picking up their medication because of prescription charges, with 82% of those saying their symptoms worsened as a result.

A quarter of patients who skipped medication also said they actually had an asthma attack as a result, with 13% requiring hospital treatment.

The survey also reported:

  • 84% of asthma sufferers spend on average £100 annually on asthma medication, with 2% spending more than £400 a year
  • Three in four asthma sufferers struggle to afford their prescription, with young people (86% of 16 to 29 year-olds) finding it the hardest
  • More than nine in ten (92%) of those on an income below £20,000, said they found it hard to afford their asthma prescriptions
  • Of those earning under £20,000 a year, 54% of respondents said they had to cut back on their food bill to afford their prescriptions
  • Of those that have to pay for their asthma prescriptions, 76% (5,661/7,465) of people reported that they found it sometimes, or always, difficult to afford their asthma medication
  • Of those who reported skipping their medication because of the cost, 73% (3,124/4,259) of people were skipping their preventer inhaler – the very medication that could have prevented their symptoms from worsening

The report said: ‘Asthma UK is calling on the health secretary to stop unfair prescription charges for people with asthma by adding asthma to the prescription charges exemptions list.

‘This would give people with asthma the chance to self-manage their condition more effectively, with no financial barriers to helping them stay well.’

This comes as the Department of Health and Social Care announced that from this April, NHS prescription charges will increase by 20p from £8.80 to £9.

The DHSC said the increase will help the Government carry-out previously announced funding pledges, such as the £10bn by 2020/21 from the Five Year Forward View for NHS frontline services, and the £22bn NHS efficiency savings.