Why I Switched My Asthma Medication
We live in a day and age where asthmatics are blessed with a plethora of medicinal options. I personally think it’s a good idea for all asthmatics to keep an open mind and, when appropriate, be willing to try something new.
Personally, as a life-long asthma and allergy sufferer, I’ve always been willing to try something new. One of the latest medicines I’ve tried is a newer medicine called Breo. Although approved for COPD, it may also be prescribed to help control asthma.
Breo is the latest in a line of combination medicines that contain both an inhaled corticosteroid (fluticasone furoate) and a long acting beta adrenergic (vlanterol). The inhaler is made by GlaxoSmithKline, the same company that makes Advair.
Advair has introduced to the market in the mid 1990s as the first combination inhaler containing an inhaled steroid (fluticasone) and LABA (salmeterol). It has since gone on to become one of the best selling asthma medicines of all time.
Advair was approved by the FDA for asthma, but has commonly been prescribed for COPD. Around the year 2000, my asthma doctor prescribed Advair to help me better control my asthma. It worked great. Yet by the spring of 2014 Advair was no longer working, and so my physician suggested I try Breo.
He handed me about two months’ worth of free samples, and said, "I want your honest opinion on this new medicine. I trust your judgement."
In the past he had me replace Advair with Symbicort and then Dulera, but both of those made me too jittery. So when he offered for me to try Breo I wasn’t too optimistic.
However, after a month of taking it, not only were there no side effects, but my asthma was under much better control. Of course I could easily consider it a coincidence, but in this case I’m going to give credit to Breo.
There are two reasons I think Breo works better for me. I personally think that after eight years, my body developed a tolerance to it. I’ve noticed a trend of this happening in the past. I think there comes a point where a change becomes necessary.
The inhaler I used prior to Advair was Azmacort. One of the main problems with this medicine is I needed four puffs four times a day. It was hard to be compliant with this high dose. Advair was nice because it required only one puff twice a day. That made compliance much easier.
The second reason is because every time a new inhaled corticosteroid or LABA is introduced to the market, it is slightly better than its predicessors. It’s possible that Breo simply works better than Advair.
Another nice thing that makes Breo better than Advair is Breo only requires one puff once a day. While the Advair Discus was easy to use, the Breo elipta is even easier to use (all you do is open the top and inhale).
Once I decided that Breo was right for me, I called my pharmacist to see if it was affordable. This was necessary because newer asthma medicines tend to be quite expensive. He said that the cost, after deductible, was right about $60. This was actually a few dollars less than Advair, so it was worthwhile for me to call my physician to get a prescription for Breo.
My point here is not to give an endorsement to Advair or Breo or any other product. My point is that, if your asthma is not as controlled as you’d like, perhaps it’s time to look into some of the newer asthma medicines that are now available.
John Bottrell is a registered Respiratory Therapist. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).