A new study, initiated by AstraZeneca, has confirmed the link between over-reliance on SABA inhalers and an increase in asthma exacerbations and asthma-related healthcare utilisation.

The SABA use INAsthma (SABINA) study examined prescription patterns and the impact of short-acting SABA inhaler use, which is also known as reliever / rescue or ‘blue inhaler’, on asthma-related health outcomes in the UK.

The study noted that approximately 38% of the people who were classified as high SABA inhaler users suffered asthma attacks twice the number of times than people who use inhalers less frequently, regardless of asthma severity.

Furthermore, high SABA inhaler use was also found to be linked with an increased risk of exacerbations compared to low SABA inhaler use.

Data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) and Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) database between 2007 and 2017 were used for this retrospective, longitudinal, and open-cohort study.

It reviewed patient prescription data and treatment steps, along with the use of SABA, both separately and with outcomes of exacerbations or asthma-related healthcare utilisation.

AstraZeneca UK Inhaled Respiratory Medicine head Yang Xu said: “Asthma attacks can be terrifying events for patients, and sometimes, they can be life-threatening.

“This real-world UK data, confirms the association between SABA over-reliance and the increased risk of severe attacks observed in other studies around the world.

“It also highlights the scale of over-reliance in the UK. Now, more than ever, we need to adopt a mindset of zero tolerance for asthma attacks and eliminate SABA over-reliance.”

Asthma, which is a chronic inflammatory, fluctuating disease, affects approximately 5.4 million people in the UK.

In 2018, AstraZeneca partnered with Geisinger for the development of an app suite that can be connected with the electronic health record to advance asthma care.