Indicator 9. Preventer use

Description: Proportion of people, aged 50 and under dispensed at least one preventer medicine, who were dispensed preventer medicines 3 or more times, within 12 months, by age and sex.

Preventer medicine is the mainstay of asthma management, to control the disease in order to minimise symptoms and exacerbations. Use of preventer medicine has been found to be associated with a significant decrease in hospitalisations and mortality due to asthma by 45% between 1997 and 2009 (AIHW 2011).

National guidelines for the management of asthma recommend preventers to be taken regularly (either daily or twice daily) rather than intermittently (NACA 2019). In line with advice from the National Asthma and Other Chronic Respiratory Conditions Monitoring Advisory Group, the dispensing of these medicines 3 or more times in 12 months has been selected as the threshold for reflecting better management of moderate to severe asthma. As per the Australian Asthma Handbook the preventer medicines for asthma are: inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), combination of ICS and long-acting beta-agonists (LABA) known as ICS-LABA, leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRA) and cromones (note that following expert advice, cromones have not been included in this analysis) (NAC 2019). The use of LTRA are recommended as the first-line preventer in the management of asthma in children aged 2–14 years (NAC 2019).

The interactive visualisations on this page show data for preventer use by age and sex.

Key findings

Analysis of 2017─18 Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) data shows that, of all people aged 50 and under who were dispensed at least one preventer medicine, 34% were dispensed preventer medicines 3 or more times within 12 months. Other main findings include:

  • The rate of dispensing preventers 3 or more times in 12 months was slightly higher for males than females (36% and 32%, respectively).

  • The rate of dispensing preventers 3 or more times in 12 months increased steadily with age from 16–20 years, up to 42% for those aged 46–50 years.

  • Compared with females, males dispensed at least one preventer had higher rates of being dispensed preventers 3 or more times in 12 months in all age groups. 

Visualisation not available for printing

References

ACAM (Australian Centre for Asthma Monitoring) 2011. Asthma in Australia 2011: with a focus chapter on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. AIHW Asthma Series no. 4. Cat. no. ACM 22. Canberra: AIHW.

NACA (National Asthma Council Australia) 2019. Australian Asthma Handbook, Version 2.0 Melbourne: National Asthma Council Australia