Prescription charge responsible for asthma medication rationing

People with asthma are rationing their medication due to the high cost of prescriptions in England, leading to an increased risk of asthma attacks and hospital admissions, according to a recent report from Asthma UK.

Paying to Breathe: Why Unfair Asthma Prescription Charges Must Be Stopped includes the results of a survey of over 9000 people with asthma in England on the impact of prescription charges. The survey showed that over half (57%) of the 2.3 million people with asthma who pay for their prescriptions have skimped on their medication because of cost. This figure rises to 69% in younger people (aged 16–29 years) and to 70% among people in the lowest income bracket (below £20,000 per annum). Of those who reported skipping medication because of cost, 82% said it made their symptoms worse and 24% said it led to an asthma attack, with 13% requiring hospital treatment. Nearly three-quarters (73%) reported skipping their preventer inhaler; the medication that could potentially have averted an asthma attack.

Meanwhile, the government has announced another rise in the prescription charge for medicines dispensed on the NHS in England, from £8.80 to £9.00 for each medicine prescribed, from April. The cost of the prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) will remain frozen for another year, at an annual cost of £104. NHS prescription charges were abolished in Wales in 2007, Northern Ireland in 2010 and Scotland in 2011.

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