Preview released for updated Australian Asthma Handbook

Monday, 15 June, 2020

Preview released for updated <em>Australian Asthma Handbook</em>

The National Asthma Council Australia has released a preview of the updated Australian Asthma Handbook, which details a new evidence-based approach to initiating and adjusting asthma medication in adults and adolescents (aged 12 years and over).

The changes involve the use of a low-dose inhaled corticosteroid and rapid onset reliever on an as-needed basis for patients with mild asthma. Other advice in the stepped approach remains unchanged.

The Australian Asthma Handbook, published by the National Asthma Council, provides the national guidelines for asthma management in Australia — the update is due to be published in the coming weeks.

The next update will focus on the issue of underuse of preventer medicines by people with asthma and the corresponding over-reliance on reliever medications.

“Very few adults and adolescents with asthma can maintain good asthma control relying solely on a short-acting reliever and nearly all adults with asthma will have better health outcomes and quality of life through use of a preventer that contains an inhaled corticosteroid, which addresses the underlying lung inflammation,” Chair of the Guidelines Committee Professor Amanda Barnard said.

“We welcome the new listing of low-dose Symbicort (budesonide/formoterol) as a subsidised medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for as needed only use by adults and adolescents with mild asthma for its potential to facilitate the use of preventer medication by people who may otherwise over-rely on their reliever.

“However, it’s important to note that short-acting relievers such as salbutamol remain an essential rescue medicine for their role in management of acute asthma and community first aid,” Professor Barnard added. “They still provide safe relief of symptoms when used with a regular inhaled corticosteroid preventer.”

National Asthma Council CEO Siobhan Brophy said, “The significant update on asthma management for adults and adolescents has been conducted by a multidisciplinary team of experts including primary care clinicians and respiratory specialists. The rigorous development included comprehensive review of evidence from recent clinical trials, consideration of the Australian health system context and deliberation on how recommendations would be implemented in primary care.

“As part of the review process, we are consulting with and seeking endorsement from stakeholder groups such as the RACGP, APNA, PSA and TSANZ on the update. We are also seeking feedback on the implementation of the update from people with asthma,” Brophy said.

The full handbook update will include detailed guidance for implementation, practice tips and other updates. Plans for health professional education are also underway to help in the implementation of the new guidelines.

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