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Supporting the addition of asthma medications to the exemption list in the UK

Dr. Fred A. Wagshul, Pulmonologist and Medical Director at the Lung Center of America, explains why he supports the addition of asthma medications to the exemption list in the UK.


I read with great interest the article on the Open Access Government website from Asthma UK about How Unfair Prescription Charges are Putting People with Asthma at Risk. It is true that in the UK, the US and elsewhere throughout the world, the cost of treating chronic asthma is astronomical and can be virtually unsustainable for many with limited financial resources who struggle to breathe every day. So let me say at the outset that I support the addition of asthma medications to the exemption list in the UK.


But as I read the following in the Open Access Government post, “People with asthma have to take their medication every day…They need…a ‘preventer’ inhaler…and many…need allergy medication…or antibiotics”, I felt compelled to offer some information that will be surprising to most, and it is this: These patients don’t have to live that way.


There is sound, medically scientific proof that the symptoms of asthma can be eradicated. The treatment protocols that accomplish this should be adopted not only to bring down the costs associated with the treatment of asthma but more importantly, to bring these people who struggle to breathe daily the ability to breathe easily for life.


For many people dealing with the scourge of chronic asthma, the notion of living symptom-free of asthma for life borders on the absurd. That’s because the ‘band-aid’ drugs commonly prescribed for asthma – inhales, relievers, allergy meds and more – cause patients to become dependent upon those drugs for life. But medical journals clearly show that by identifying the root cause of a patient’s asthma and treating that, the symptoms can be altogether obliterated. This would obviate the need for long-term medications, rescue inhalers (many of which contain dire black box warnings), emergency room visits and hospitalizations.


Studies have demonstrated that certain bacteria (i.e. Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Chlamydia pneumoniae) are associated with pulmonary disorders, including asthma. Therefore, the specific bacteria identified in a patient’s system can be targeted through the development of an individually prescribed antibiotic protocol that has proven to be tremendously successful.

"There is sound, medically scientific proof that the symptoms of asthma can be eradicated. The treatment protocols that accomplish this should be adopted not only to bring down the costs associated with the treatment of asthma but more importantly, to bring these people who struggle to breathe daily the ability to breathe easily for life."


What this means is that people with asthma, COPD, chronic bronchitis and even emphysema do not have to live with life-limiting breathing difficulties. They can live symptom-free and even find total remission from their debilitating symptoms. Many of our patients, who had experienced significant declines in the quality of their lives, have returned to their normal, active lives. Many of our patients’ experiences can be found here: https://www.lungcenterofamerica.org/stories.


It is heartbreaking to learn from the Open Access Government post that, “The number of adults with a lifetime diagnosis of asthma in the UK is increasing and the UK death rate from asthma is among the worst in Europe.” These statistics are unacceptable – since we know what works to prevent the suffering of this magnitude. I have been asked by so many of my patients why, if I can put their asthma into remission, other doctors aren’t doing the same thing. Here’s why:


Firstly, I know for certain that the use of long-term antibiotics is essential in treating the cause of asthma, rather than just the symptoms. This protocol is not popularly accepted by mainstream medicine, despite documented excellent outcome data as published repeatedly in prestigious medical journals. (See study links at https://www.lungcenterofamerica.org/.


Secondly, $80 billion is spent annually in the US just on the treatment of asthma alone. Approximately 70% of the costs for asthma care are generated through emergency room visits and subsequent hospitalizations. Over 98% of all physicians/physician groups nationwide are tied to hospital reimbursement systems that help subsidize physician salaries. If that 70% was left unspent, most of these physician groups would collapse. Additionally, the out-of-pocket costs incurred by patients in the US are on average $3,000. This is in addition to the premiums they pay for health insurance. It’s a financial house of cards.


All of this is in stark contrast to our office patients who are treated for the root cause of their breathing difficulties, (over 20,000 and climbing). They rarely go to the emergency room or are ever hospitalized, so that is why Lung Center of America has one of the lowest hospitalization rates for pulmonary patients in the nation.


It is my fervent hope that this information will be shared with those empowered to review and approve asthma medications for the exemption list in the UK. Even more importantly, it is imperative that patients who struggle to breathe understand that they most certainly do not have to live that way.


Dr. Fred A. Wagshul

Pulmonologist, Medical Director at the Lung Center of America