Asthma is serious and can be deadly, says sufferer amid row over ‘unfair prescription charges’
PUBLISHED: 12:26 26 February 2019
ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434
A Suffolk asthma sufferer is warning of the dangers the illness can pose as it’s revealed more than 100,000 people living with it in our region are struggling to afford prescription charges.
Lucy Galligan, whose life was saved by her six-year-old daughter when she raised the alarm during a potentially deadly attack last year, has brittle asthma – a severe form of the condition.
She is speaking out about the consequences of not having a preventative inhaler as a national report by Asthma UK reveals more than half of sufferers questioned had to cut back on their medication due to rising costs.
The charity claims higher prices for inhalers could be putting an estimated 115,000 asthma sufferers at risk of life-threatening attacks.
It said more than 6,000 people were treated in hospital for asthma in the east of England during 2017.
Bosses said that on average, asthma prescriptions cost more than £100 per year – yet 1.6% of people in the region are paying more than £400 a year.
Ms Galligan, who does not have to pay for her medication but knows all too well how serious asthma can be, said: “I don’t think some people realise how serious asthma can be.
“If someone doesn’t take their preventative inhaler, it could be as serious as death.
“Fortunately I don’t have to pay for my medication, but when I thought about working it was a real consideration as to whether I could afford it.
“I don’t think the prescription prepayment certificates, which is cheaper for most people, is advertised well enough.
She added: “I had to really look to find out I could get my prescription more cheaply.”
Prescription fees are set by the Department of Health and Social Care. Some people with other long-term illnesses such as diabetes and epilepsy get their medication for free, a benefit chiefs at Asthma UK believe should be in place for sufferers of the condition.
The charity’s director of research and policy, Dr Samantha Walker, said: “It is unfair that thousands of people with asthma in the east of England may be getting a raw deal, paying unfair costs for their medicine just to stay well. No one should have to pay to breathe.
“We are urging everyone who thinks it’s unfair to join our ‘Stop Unfair Asthma Prescription Charges’ campaign and sign our petition to urge the Government to remove prescription charges for people with asthma.”
Representatives for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are committed to ensuring people with long-term conditions get access to the treatment they need, including affordable prescriptions.
“We have also frozen the cost of the prescription pre-payment certificates for another year to support those with the greatest need.”