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March 2021

Study confirms overuse of SABA in asthma

New analysis of inhaler use in the UK shows that 83% of all short-acting beta-2-agonist (SABA) relievers for asthma are prescribed to patients who are potentially overusing their reliever medication (prescribed ≥3 inhalers/year).1 The overuse of SABA relievers represents 9.24 million SABA prescriptions and is responsible for 250,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually.1

These findings were presented at the British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting in February, and are based on SABA prescription and use data extracted from the UK study in the SABA Use IN Asthma (SABINA) global programme of harmonised, large-scale observational studies collected between 2007-2017.2

The prescription of three or more SABA inhalers per year is associated with poor asthma control, approximately twice the number of exacerbations compared with low SABA users (prescribed 0-2 inhalers/year) and increased asthma-related healthcare utilisation.

Alexander Wilkinson, Consultant in Respiratory and General Medicine, East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, Stevenage, UK and lead author of the study said: ‘Overuse of reliever inhalers in asthma is widespread in the UK and associated with an increased risk of exacerbations for patients, highlighting the importance of adopting strategies to improve disease control and reduce short-acting beta-2-agonist overuse. This new analysis shows that reliever overuse is also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in respiratory care, similar to driving an average diesel car for about 900 million miles. These findings are important for informing clinical guidelines and healthcare policies to support improvements in asthma care while also realising carbon savings.’

1. Wilkinson AJK, Menzies-Gow A, Sawyer M, et al. BTS Oral Abstract No: S26.

2. Bloom CI, Cabrera C, Arnetorp S, et al. Adv Ther 2020; 37: 4190–4208.

Practice Nurse 2021;51(2):6