Specialist wants end to OTC asthma relievers

It’s a bad idea for asthma relievers to be available over the counter, according to a respiratory specialist.

There’s “abundant” research to show patients with asthma are too dependent on short-acting beta-agonists, says Dr Simon Bowler, from Brisbane’s Mater Hospital.

“I think we should remove short-acting beta-agonists from S3, except for emergencies,” he says.

This follows a Woolcock Institute of Medical Research report that says 49% of Australians with asthma use a reliever five to seven times a week.

Specialists say using a reliever puffer more than twice a week is a sign of poorly controlled asthma.

Dr Bowler would prefer OTC relievers to be replaced with a combination product – “relatively low dose beclomethasone mixed with salbutamol”.

“That’s left field but it’s been put up at the National Asthma