Dr. Bruce Hensel
Studies show that when asthmatics suffer an attack they increase their dosage but don't lower it when they feel better, leading to increased side effects and higher medical costs. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014.
With 26 million Americans taking asthma medicines at a cost of $150 million a day, a new study seeks to determine how to change the fact that many of those patients are taking too much medicine.
Dr. John Mastronarde and his colleagues at Ohio State University Medical Center are researching how to get patients on the lowest dose of asthma medicine possible.
He said the drugs can cost patients between $3 and $500 per month.
Studies have found that cost may increase during acute attacks since patients increase the use of medication and inhalers to combat symptoms then continuing using those elevated doses after the attack.
Mastronarde said many asthma patients take more medicine than they need and though official guidelines suggest steadily tapering the dosage to the right amount, none have a proven successful way of weaning patients.
The study out of Ohio will examine medicines and inhalers to determine which combinations at which dose is best under which circumstances.
While some patients take too many medicines, increasing their risk of side effects, others avoid preventive treatments altogether because of the high costs. This study may reduce risks for some patients and may reduce hospitalizations and the danger of severe attacks in the future for others.
All patients who have asthma should get regular checkups to determine the lowest, and least costly dose of medication that is right for them.