Optimising asthma care for patients and the planet

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Asthma is one of the most common chronic non-communicable diseases – it affects approximately 262 million people globally and is responsible for over 450,000 deaths each year worldwide, most of which are preventable.1,2 Further, an estimated 136 million exacerbations are experienced globally every year.3 These numbers tell us that asthma is a serious and often poorly managed condition, and that many are living with asthma that is uncontrolled.

This year, the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) emphasised the need to empower people with asthma with the appropriate education to manage their disease, and to recognise when to seek medical help as part of their Asthma Education Empowers” World Asthma Day campaign.4 At AstraZeneca, we are steadfast in our commitment to work alongside the global respiratory community in driving education and awareness among patients, healthcare professionals and policymakers on the key issues affecting people with asthma, including under- or inaccurate diagnosis, inappropriate medicines use and poor recognition of patients requiring specialist assessment and further management.4 We have a bold ambition to help eliminate asthma attacks and improve outcomes for patients, while at the same time reducing the environmental impact of asthma care.5

Our collaboration with the International Primary Care Respiratory Group on Asthma Right Care – a global social movement aimed at disrupting the status quo in asthma care – is an example of this commitment. The programme, now launched in 24 countries around the world, equips general practitioners (GPs), pharmacists, nurses, patients and others involved in front-line care with the tools needed to seek better asthma management solutions and, in the process, improve outcomes for people with asthma.6

We also contribute to initiatives that address the structural and policy gaps in health systems. Severe asthma is a distinct and debilitating condition representing up to 10% of asthma cases7 yet accounts for at least 50% of the total costs of asthma8,9 and 10 times that of mild asthma, based on a Canadian study.10 A lack of awareness of what appropriate care should be for people with severe asthma means that patients often face delays in diagnosis and referral.7,11 We have supported the development of health system quality standards in severe asthma which have served as blueprints for improving referral pathways, securing appropriate specialist resources and increasing use of guideline directed care.12

Well-controlled asthma combines benefits both for patients and for the carbon footprint of care

The climate crisis, pollution and other environmental factors contribute to the burden of chronic respiratory diseases including asthma.13,14 At the same time, caring for millions of people with these conditions carries an environmental impact.15

Respiratory diseases like asthma are complex, difficult to treat and often poorly controlled,16,17 and are associated with a greater carbon footprint of care.15,18 In the UK, Europe and the US, asthma is poorly controlled in around half of those with the condition.15,19 Among asthma patients in low to middle income countries, this number rises to an alarming 90%, substantially increasing the risk of hospital admission and severe illness as well as healthcare costs.20 Poorly controlled asthma is associated with increased morbidity and healthcare resource utilisation.15 Optimising care by implementing evidence-based guidelines into clinical practice can reduce exacerbations, and the improved patient outcomes may also decrease the overall carbon footprint associated with asthma care.15,21,22  

We’re committed to advancing asthma care through partnership and innovation

As leaders in respiratory care our work to improve outcomes in order to decarbonise the footprint of care is coupled with our commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of our medicines. Recently, we have accelerated the development of our inhaled respiratory medicines using an innovative, next-generation propellant with near-zero global warming potential (99.9% lower than in today’s medicines).5 First launches are anticipated from 2025 onwards, subject to regulatory approvals.

 

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