Feature Article

Evolving therapies for severe asthma: the role of the GP




GPs have a key role in optimising asthma treatments, recognising patients with severe or refractory asthma and referring them for specialist review and consideration of emerging treatments. Long-term use of oral corticosteroids should be avoided if possible. New therapies recommended in guidelines on severe asthma include tiotropium and biological therapies such as omalizumab and mepolizumab.

Key Points

  • In Australia, asthma affects about 10% of people, and 3 to 10% of these have difficult-to-treat or severe disease.
  • Severe asthma is defined as asthma that is inadequately controlled despite maximal doses of inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta2 agonists or asthma that requires oral corticosteroids in addition to maximal inhaled therapy to remain controlled.
  • Patients with severe asthma should be referred to a specialist for evaluation and institution of biological treatments if appropriate.
  • Emerging therapies for severe asthma include biological treatments that target specific inflammatory pathways, such as omalizumab and mepolizumab.

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