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14.05.2007 Health

New Asthma Treatment Out

Asthma management has taken a new turn with the introduction of Combination/SMART therapy which is a single inhaler that serves both as a rapid relief for patients from asthma attacks and also for preventing attacks.

Asthma medications are broadly classified as 'reliever' (that reverts asthma attacks) and 'controller' that prevents the attacks.

Previously, asthmatics had to carry or use a reliever and a controller in two separate devices which may be inconvenient and expensive for the patient.

The introduction of Symbicort Turbuhaler as a Single inhaler for Maintenance and Reliever Therapy (SMART) is a much simpler and practical way of managing asthma to provide improved patient outcome.

In his maiden lecture to the health fraternity in Ghana, Prof. Jan Lotvall, Secretary-General of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and a global authority on the subject from Goteborg University, Sweden, stated that the era of asthmatics having frequent asthma attacks and being restricted socially or living in fear of the next attack should be over in every part of the world including Ghana.

Dr Audrey Forson, a consultant physician and head of department of the Chest Clinic at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, said asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world and its incidence in Ghana has doubled over the last decade, being estimated to be about 10 per cent in the urban areas.

It is characterised by recurrent breathing difficulties and other symptoms such as breathlessness, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing. Asthma symptoms vary over time, and also from individual to individual.

She stressed that asthmatics in Ghana over depend on Salbutamol inhaler/tablets to manage their asthma and advised on the need to adopt the new treatment, a combination therapy in a single inhaler as stated in the current Global Initiative for Asthma 2006 (GINA) guidelines.

In commemorating the theme for World Asthma Day “You Can Control Your Asthma”, AstraZeneca, one of the top global pharmaceutical companies in Ghana, launched SMART for her combination product Symbicort Turbuhaler highly recommended in the new GINA guidelines.

Mr William Ofori, Country Manager for AstraZeneca Ghana, stated that Symbicort Turbuhaler is the unique asthma combination that can be used both as a reliever and controller.

SMART studies conducted with this medication showed better asthma control, minimised frequency and severity of attacks and improved overall quality of life of patients, he concluded.