The use of non-prescription salbutamol inhalers by asthmatic patients in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales

D. A. Henry, D. Sutherland, L. Francis, The Newcastle Retail Pharmacy Research Group

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Because of concern over the unsupervised use of bronchodilator aerosols, we studied the characteristics of a group of asthmatic subjects who purchased their salbutamol inhalers and a group of asthmatic subjects who obtained their inhalers by prescription. Community pharmacists distributed 360 questionnaires to consecutive patients who requested salbutamol inhalers; 320 questionnaires were returned (response rate, 89%). Of these, 240 respondents described themselves as asthmatic and stated that they obtained their inhalers exclusively or predominantly by either purchase (120 subjects) or prescription (120 subjects). Purchasers were younger than were users of prescribed inhalers and were more likely to be in current employment. The 'purchase' group perceived less disability from chest disease than did the 'prescription' group but were not different from the prescription group with respect to more-objective measures of disease severity, such as the occurrence of wheeze every day, nocturnal wakening with wheezing, and admissions to hospital with asthma. The purchasers had a low rate of consultation with family practitioners and specialists and reported a low use of prescription-only medications, particularly of inhaled corticosteroid agents. This study highlights the possible disadvantages of providing bronchodilator aerosols without prescription, and emphasizes an important counselling role for community pharmacists in the management of bronchial asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-449
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


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