A recent Mayo Clinic study suggests that taking less asthma medication can be done safely and cost effectively if patients follow guidelines. Doctors commonly scale down asthma medication prescriptions due to how costly they can be, but knowing when to begin cutting back can be challenging and the risks need to be better understood.
Study lead, Matthew Rank, M.D., analyzed asthma outcomes after asthma patients cut down on their medication. Over 4,000 patients who took asthma medication daily were studied. These individuals were split into two groups: asthma patients who were stable for at least a year who remained on medication, and asthma patients who were stable for a year and cut back on their asthma medication.
The findings suggest that stepping down asthma medication after being stable for a year is successful and as safe as remaining on the regular daily dose. Only 11 percent of those who stepped down from their medication had complications within the first four to five months.
Dr. Rank said, “Trying to reduce the daily asthma medicine speaks to the principle of using the least amount of medicine to control symptoms and prevent attacks.”
This is the first broad study to consider financial costs. Those who stepped down saved, on average, $34 a month in comparison to those who continued their medication. Additionally, those who cut back did not miss more work or school, compared to those who continued their medication.
Dr. Rank concluded, “This study is important because many people with asthma may be able to safely reduce their asthma medicines with the appropriate guidance from their healthcare teams. Many patients try to step down on their own, but we encourage patients to work with their doctors before doing so.”
The findings were published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.