News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

New Ventolin inhalers with dose counter reimbursed on the PBS

Health Industry Hub | August 7, 2020 |
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Pharma News: GSK Australia is pleased to announce that a dose counter has been added to VENTOLIN (salbutamol sulfate) metered dose inhalers for Australian patients living with obstructive airway diseases, such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).The updated inhaler will be reimbursed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 August, 2020.

The integration of a dose counter with the VENTOLIN inhaler will allow patients to view the number of doses remaining in their inhalers. This important update for Australian patients and healthcare professionals will enable better monitoring of medication usage and ensure adequate supply when needed.

There will be a transition to VENTOLIN with dose counter over 4 to 6 months, while existing stock of VENTOLIN continues to be sold in pharmacies. While there may be limited availability of VENTOLIN with dose counter in the early months, we expect the full transition to be complete by the end of 2020. After this time, all VENTOLIN inhalers available to patients will have a dose counter.

Healthcare professionals should advise patients to expect to receive their regular VENTOLIN inhaler (without a dose counter) until the transition period is complete.

According to Professor Adam Jaffe, Professor of Paediatrics and Respiratory Paediatrician, the introduction of VENTOLIN with a dose counter is a timely and positive development for Australians living with obstructive airway diseases like asthma.

“The dose counter has been on preventer medications for diseases such as asthma and COPD for many years and so it is very timely that it is being made available on VENTOLIN in Australia. The ability to know how much VENTOLIN is left in the puffer can help patients manage their asthma better. Previously people would shake the puffer or weigh it, however, these are very inaccurate methods to assess if there was any VENTOLIN in the puffer. Given that VENTOLIN is a lifesaving medication, the addition of the dose counter means that patients can ensure they have a puffer available with remaining doses if needed in an asthma flare up,” said Professor Jaffe.

“While patients will benefit from a precise understanding of the available doses, it is important to note that the medicine itself has not changed – simply the integration of a dose counter. Healthcare professionals will play an important role in assisting patients with the transition to dose counter inhaler, as it takes place over the remainder of 2020.”

More than 2.7 million Australians are living with diagnosed asthma, and in 2017–18, there were approximately 38,792 hospitalisations related to asthma. In addition, COPD affects an estimated 464,000 Australians aged 45 and over, and in 2016-17, there were approximately 78,100 hospitalisations of people in this group related to COPD.

As-needed reliever therapy with short acting β2-agonists (SABAs), such as VENTOLIN, continues to play an important role in the management of obstructive airway diseases, such as asthma.

  • As-needed SABA in conjunction with regular daily preventer therapy can assist in reducing asthma symptoms and the risk of asthma-related exacerbations, hospitalisation and death.
  • Regular preventer treatment with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) significantly reduces exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). Taking SABAs prior to exercise can also help to prevent EIB.
  • Inhaled SABA therapy forms an integral part of Asthma First Aid Emergency management as well as part of the patient’s individual asthma action plan.
  • Inhaled SABA therapy is also used in the management of asthma exacerbations in acute care settings such as the emergency department.

Introduction of the dose counter is intended to help patients to ensure that they are appropriately using SABA medication, reserving it for as-needed use in the above circumstances; as well as giving confidence regarding the number of doses remaining.

Dr Andrew Weekes, Medical Director at GSK Australia, said that the PBS listing of VENTOLIN with a dose counter is an important milestone both for the treatment of patients with obstructive airway diseases and for GSK.

“I am personally delighted that Australians with obstructive airway diseases like asthma and COPD will have access to VENTOLIN with dose counter. As they are phased in, the VENTOLIN dose counter inhalers will give patients and healthcare professionals a much clearer view of their usage, which can be a guide to the potential need for other therapies, as well as providing confidence regarding what’s left in the inhaler,” said Dr Weekes.

“This development reflects GSK’s commitment to continuous innovation for patients. Incremental innovation like this at such scale takes time and energy to effect. This has been an ambition of the GSK Australia team for some time and so it is a particular honour to be part of this announcement. The GSK team greatly value the support of healthcare professionals in assisting patients with this transition.”


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