June 4, 2021
Middle-aged male with asthma since I was around 10 years old - hospitalised on three occasions around my late teens and early twenties, but fine since then. Have used a preventer on and off over the years, but haven't used one now for quite some time - always found them to be expensive compared with a reliever.
I currently use an Asmol/Ventolin reliever when required, but wanted to look at using a preventer again. Is there any information out there on the most cost-effective preventer I can get on script in Australia? Any thoughts?
PS I do visit a doctor from time to time.
John Bottrell, RRT
June 4, 2021
Hi. ntestinalworm Thank you for your post. And a great question. As you probably know, there are many great asthma preventers on the market today. Some of the products may vary slightly down there in Australia compared to here in the U.S. -- and I do think there are some different names as well. And I do believe that your country has access to some of the newer generic inhalers, and those may prove to be the most affordable. Your doctor should have knowledge of which inhalers are most effective and affordable for you. So, talking with your doctor may be the best place to start. Do you have insurance? Or do you have to pay out of pocket? Just curious. John. Community Moderator. asthma.net
June 5, 2021
Thanks for replying John!
Medicines here to a large extent are subsidised by the federal government through our PBS scheme (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme). Most Australians don't have any private medical insurance - really only relevant for those who want quick elective surgery (not have to wait on a waiting list) and where you want to have your own hospital room in a private hospital; our health system in that sense is similar to that in the UK (not quite as good as the UK NHS in my estimation - I have lived in both countries).
Anyway, pharmacy medicines requiring a doctor's prescription are paid for over the counter - at traditional, and increasingly now at discount chain pharmacies. Ventolin and Asmol (both brands of the asthma reliever drug salbutamol) cost between AUD 7 - 10 (USD 5 - USD 7). The problem is the growing range of preventers - they typically cost around AUD 40 (USD 31). Relievers are much, much cheaper (typically only AUD 6) if you have a federal government Health Care Card. Health Care Cards are issued by the federal government to people who are unemployed or otherwise qualify for one. Unfortunately, a large percentage of asthmatic Australians don't use a preventer as they don't have access to the Health Care Card and they just can't afford to part with AUD 40 for a preventer - instead they exclusively will only use a reliever!
The thing is, some preventers are considerably more economic than others (relates to number of doses per "puffer" and prescribed "puffs" per day), but with the larger number of products out there now it gets very confusing for many, including doctors! The last doctor (GP) I saw didn't really know! Doctors I have seen at clinics over the years don't really seem to take price/annualised cost for the patient into account (most patients are unwilling to broach the subject of cost with their GP) - probably why preventer usage is so low now in Australia! If more asthmatics used preventers it would certainly cut our asthma hospital admissions!
What I can tell you, is the new combined preventer/reliever medications out there that have recently become available are certainly the least cost-effective asthma medication. I just wish there was an independent comparison chart assessment of these competing medications and their annualised cost. The different drug types and brand names out there now have left many confused - like buying a coffee from Starbucks!!! It gets more confusing when you get onto the internet, as brand names are not the same across the world!
June 5, 2021
Oh! I found this just a moment ago:
June 5, 2021
Will see my doctor and will ask for a script for the preventer drug budesonide - the brand is Pulmicort Turbuhaler - believe it's manufactured by Astra Zeneca; I will see if there is a generic.
Leon Lebowitz, RRT
June 6, 2021
Hi Intestinalworm - it sounds like you have a plan. Please do check back and let us know how this all works out for you.
All the best,
Leon (site moderator asthma.net)
June 9, 2021
And thank you, too,