Do patients think that dry powder inhalers can be used interchangeably?


*Rachel Booker, National Respiratory Training, Education for Health, The Athenaeum, 10 Church Street, Warwick CV34 4AB, UK
Tel.: + 44 1926 838964
Fax: + 44 1926 493224


As recognised in management guidelines, patients are the most important group of people in any prescribing decision. Despite their importance, few studies have asked what patients think about being switched between different inhalers. This paper reports two such studies, one involving interviews of a sample of patients and the other consisting of a quantitative survey of patients across five countries.

In the qualitative study, four of the five patients interviewed reported that they would be confused, worried and unhappy about a switch in their dry powder inhaler and would revisit their physician to be shown how to use the inhaler or to ask for a new prescription for their old inhaler.

In the quantitative survey of 499 patients with asthma, more than half (51%) were opposed to their current dry powder inhaler being replaced by a substitute device, with 83% reporting concerns. There was considerable concern about training in use of the new device and confusion about the need for change. Almost a quarter of patients (23%) would want training, and 23% of patients thought they would need information about the new inhaler.

From limited information, it appears that patients would be concerned about switching of their existing dry powder inhaler for another, with the potential for confusion, need for additional consultations and need for training in the new device.