ASTHMA WATCH

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

"Green" Inhalers MakeUsers See Red

Asthma patients are none too happy about having toswitch from their older inhalers, which traditionally use chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs), to more environmentally consciousdevices that are CFC-free but cost considerably more. Theolder devices are being phased out by manufacturers, andthey are due to be banned nationwide by the end of the year.The new inhalers, which utilize hydrofluoroalkane, are just aseffective as the older ones, according to pharmacists andphysicians, but they are costlier than CFC inhalers. Right now,the prices of the new inhalers are higher because no genericversions are available, costing anywhere between $45 and$65. The ban on the CFC inhalers was in response to the 1987Montreal Protocol, an international pact that called for theelimination of ozone-depleting chemicals.

Patients also report having trouble working with the newinhalers, stating that they become clogged and require dailycleaning. Experts state that patients need to be encouragedto keep using them, and proper training and practice in theiruse can help make the transition easier.

Special Camp for Kidswith Asthma

A recent study showed that children with asthma whoattended a special camp for asthmatic children improvedtheir management of the disease. About 120 asthma campsare in place across the country, sponsored by the AmericanLung Association, and almost 10,000 children attend themeach year. Researchers from the University of California SanDiego School of Medicine looked at information on 1783 childrenwho attended 24 different asthma camps. Camp attendeesgenerally had moderate-to-severe asthma and camefrom a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds.

The researchers found that children who had attendedcamp the previous year experienced fewer trips to the emergencyroom and their doctor's office for asthma-related incidents,compared with those who had not attended campbefore. Those who attended camp in the past also had betterasthma-management skills and were more likely to use theirmedications to control their asthma. The findings were publishedin the December 2007 issue of the Annals of Allergy,Asthma & Immunology.

ACAAI Sponsors Free Screening Program

The American College of Allergy,Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) is sponsoringthe 12th Annual NationwideAsthma Screening Program to helpadults and children discover if asthmais causing their breathing problems.Allergists will bring free screenings to250 locations across the country duringNational Asthma and Allergy AwarenessMonth in May. In past years, the programhas screened more than 108,000people for asthma and referred morethan half of them for further diagnosis.A specialized effort is being made thisyear to reach those patients who mayalready know that they have asthmabut are letting the disease limit theirdaily activities and/or days of work orschool.

John Winder, MD, chair of the program,said in a statement, "The governmentguidelines emphasize that undiagnosedor inadequately treated asthmaworsens the severity of the disease.The screening program gives patientswho are still having breathing problemsa chance to meet with an allergist, discusstheir symptoms, and learn howthey can feel better."

The free screenings will take place atshopping malls, civic centers, healthfairs, and other accessible placesnationwide. For more information, visitthe Web site for the program atwww.acaai.org/public/lifeQuality/nasp/index.htm.

Women on Farms More Susceptible to Asthma

Women who work on farms and come into contact with anynumber of widely used pesticides may be increasing their riskof developing allergic asthma. Their risk of nonallergic asthmadoes not increase, however. Researchers with the NationalInstitute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research TrianglePark, North Carolina, found that women who use pesticides onfarms were 50% more likely to develop allergic asthma. Theyadded that women who grew up on farms seemed to be protectedagainst allergic asthma, regardless of pesticide use.Findings were published in the January 1, 2008, issue of theAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Researchers studied the data on 25,814 women who workedon farms in North Carolina and Iowa who were already participatingin the Agricultural Health Study. The women reportedwhether or not they had been diagnosed by a physician ashaving asthma, and they were divided according to allergicand nonallergic asthma status. According to the Asthma andAllergy Foundation of America, allergic asthma is the mostcommon form of asthma in the United States. The women whohad grown up on farms without pesticide exposure had thelowest risk of allergic asthma, compared with women whoneither grew up on farms nor applied pesticides.

F A S T   F A C T : Although 68% of asthma patients report having the disease under control, 74% also say theywould like to control it better.