Asda to sell OTC asthma inhalers
MedWire News: From today, asthma patients will be able to buy salbutamol inhalers from Asda supermarkets, without seeing their GP.
Patients aged 16 years and over can purchase two reliever inhalers at a time for £7 - less than the current prescription charge.
Asda are operating the service with online healthcare company Dr Thom, which already sells the inhalers without GP prescription from its website. Patients will have a consultation with a pharmacist and complete a questionnaire before the request is approved.
Dr Thom's Medical Director Tom Brett said in a press statement: "This is another positive step in the process of making it as easy as possible for patients to look after their own health."
However, Asthma UK has expressed concern over how the service will operate in practice.
Lead Asthma Nurse Cher Piddock said: "If people are using their blue reliever more than twice a week, it can be a sign that their asthma is out of control, which could put them at risk of a life-threatening asthma attack.
"It is therefore crucial that GPs are informed when their patients are issued with inhalers and that people who are struggling with their symptoms go for an asthma review."
Speaking to Pulse, Dr Bill Beeby of the General Practitioners Committee pointed out that if patients were using the service at the maximum rate of two inhalers every 8 weeks this would normally require them to have an asthma review.
Piddock commented: "Asda must explain how they will ensure this practice is safe and effective and share its impact on people with asthma."
MedWire News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012
By Kirsty Oswald