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Most asthma sufferers miss out on vital drug

A LIFE-changing asthma treatment is only available to 40pc of the patients who need it in this country because of a lack of funding.

Irish medical experts say up to 6,000 hospital stays could be avoided and the health service could save in excess of €1m annually if treatment was more readily available.

They are calling for the drug, Xolair, which has been officially recommended in the UK for all adults and children with severe asthma, to be given to all of the 450 people here who suffer from the condition.



Professor Stephen Lane, consultant respiratory physician at Tallaght hospital, says the current inequality in the Irish system needs to be addressed immediately.

The Asthma Society of Ireland is also pushing for the drug to be made available to the small group of patients with severe allergic asthma who "have high hospital admission rates, long lengths of stay and poor quality of life".

The drug is "not reimbursable under any Government schemes. This means that access to the medication is extremely limited", says the Society.

"Patients must rely on the generosity of hospital pharmacy budgets, meaning access to this life changing treatment is based on geographic location."

Prof Lane explains that patients with this particular type of asthma "are hospitalised more often and the long-term side effects associated with steroid use include diabetes, weight gain, hypertension, osteoporosis and depression."