Switching inhalers can boost adherence

Researchers found that inhaler switches in patients with COPD and asthma had no effect on GP consultation rate, non-specific respiratory events or adverse medication events. 


Inhaler switching in asthma and COPD is not associated with negative impacts on patients’ health, study results published in Thorax (5 August 2019) have shown[1]

Researchers looked at data from UK GP practices from 2000 to 2016 on 569,901 people with asthma and 171,321 with COPD who were treated with inhalers.

The team found that inhaler switches (brand-to-brand, generic-to-generic, generic-to-brand) were associated with a 21–25% lower rate of exacerbations, depending on the switch made, compared with non-switching. There was no effect of switching on GP consultation rate, non-specific respiratory events or adverse medication events. Adherence also significantly increased from 54% pre-switch to 62% post-switch.

Overall, rates of switching were low (2% and 6% in asthma and COPD, respectively) but had increased over time. The researchers said that patients and practitioners were generally opposed to changing inhalers for financial reasons, but that the findings should provide reassurance.

“Switching inhalers is safe, if implemented correctly (which should include appropriate patient selection and mandating the importance of providing inhaler education) and could help to redirect the respiratory healthcare budget towards more effective use,” they concluded.


[1] Bloom CI, Douglas I, Olney J et al. Thorax 2019; In press. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2018-212957

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, September 2019, Vol 303, No 7929;303(7929):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20207005

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