Caregivers Prefer FDA-Approved Treatment, Want Diagnosis Tool for Asthma, According to Studies

WILMINGTON, Del. — In two studies presented during the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), held in Philadelphia Nov. 9-15, caregivers considered the "seal of approval" from the FDA to be the most important factor when looking for an effective asthma treatment for their child. Caregivers and physicians also expressed in the study the need for a standardized assessment tool that could help diagnose and monitor asthma.

The survey of treatment-attribute preferences questioned 186 caregivers of children, ages 1 to 4 years, with asthma. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed wanted an FDA-approved treatment, and caregivers strongly preferred a treatment that requires minimal effort for the child and takes no longer than 10 minutes to administer. Fifty-four percent of caregivers said they would follow their physician's advice if given a treatment that met these criteria, while 35 percent indicated they would be willing to take an alternative treatment.

The asthma assessment-tool study, which interviewed 23 physicians and caregivers, reflected physicians' consensus that diagnosing asthma in young children is challenging: Not only must they rely on the caregiver's account of the child's history of symptoms and past response to treatment, they also have no standardized measures of asthma control in children younger than age 5. In the study, physicians and caregivers agreed that a brief standardized questionnaire completed by caregivers would help physicians better diagnose children's asthma and help caregivers better manage their child's asthma.

"Drug delivery and caregiver involvement contribute significantly to adherence, which is critical for managing children's asthma," said Kathy Lampl, M.D., associate director, Clinical Research, AstraZeneca. "The findings from these studies suggest that we may be able to improve adherence by providing caregivers of young children with the treatments and tools they need, including a simple, standardized way to report symptoms and monitor control."

According to the American Lung Association, asthma currently affects an estimated 6.2 million children younger than age 18, and of those, 4 million suffered from an asthma attack or episode in 2004.

More recent surveys show many parents think their children's asthma is well controlled when it really may not be. One survey in particular found that more than half (55 percent) thought only asthma symptoms, and not their underlying causes, could be treated, which may explain why they do not use a daily controller treatment.

This article originally appeared in the November 2006 issue of HME Business.

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