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Green light for increased Serevent inhaler access

News Release

Stop putting up with asthma symptoms
Green light for increased access to Serevent inhaler from 1st November

Auckland, 20th October 2005 – A new agreement between GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and drug funding agency PHARMAC will give people with asthma vastly improved access to long-acting asthma inhaler Serevent™ (salmeterol). From November 1st, Serevent will be available to people already using inhaled corticosteriods who still experience asthma symptoms.

The new criteria will allow a person with asthma to use Serevent if they continue to have uncontrolled asthma after three months on a daily dose of 200 micrograms or more of Flixotide (or an equivalent does of another inhaled corticosteroid). Children under 12 years of age will now be able to use Serevent if they continue to have uncontrolled asthma after three months on a daily dose of 100 micrograms or more of Flixotide (or equivalent).

Serevent is a long-acting beta agonist (LABA) often referred to as an asthma controller medication. It is used in conjunction with an asthma preventer medication, like Flixotide™ (fluticasone) or other inhaled corticosteroids, and works for 12 or more hours1 to relax constricted airways and provide more active days and restful nights without asthma symptoms.

GlaxoSmithKline New Zealand Director of Commercial Operations, Michael Bryant, says, “GSK is delighted people with asthma will be able to access Serevent earlier in their treatment than before. Patients who have not experienced this type of inhaler before should feel the positive difference from the first dose2. Serevent helps people carry on their daily lives without restricting their activities for fear of stimulating an asthma attack.

“Since its launch in 1996, Serevent has only been available to New Zealanders with severe asthma but will now be available to treat mild to moderate asthma symptoms as recommended by UK and World Health Organisation guidelines3,4. This is a very positive change for asthma management in New Zealand, by adopting international best practice through improved access, thousands more people with asthma can now benefit.”

Asthma researcher and Director of Wellington based P3 Research Dr Shaun Holt says, “For many years LABAs have been used as standard treatment in most other countries with similar asthma rates to New Zealand. These medicines make a potentially huge difference to people’s quality of life and their level of asthma control. They have demonstrated their effectiveness in reducing asthma related symptoms like waking up coughing or breathlessness and in the more serious consequences that can result from uncontrolled asthma. They can even allow a reduction in preventer dosing over time,” says Dr Holt.


Asthma in New Zealand at a glance

- Asthma is a chronic disease with two components, tightening of the smooth muscle around the airways causing breathlessness, and airway inflammation causing a thickening of the airways and allowing less air in.

- Serevent relaxes the smooth muscle around the airways for 12 hours or more1 ,and inhaled corticosteroids like Flixotide reduce airway inflammation5, both providing effective management of asthma.

- Around one in every six New Zealanders has asthma, over 650,000 people6

- New Zealand has one of the highest incidences of asthma per head of population in the world alongside Australia and the UK7

- Asthma costs in excess of $825 million each year including medicines, primary and secondary care, lost productivity from days off work, disability and death8

- Around 70% of New Zealand adults and 40% of children do not have well controlled asthma9

- New Zealanders are frequent users of reliever medications, sometimes in excess of one million puffs a day across the country10. Frequent reliever use is an indicator of poor control.

What you should know about Serevent

Serevent (salmeterol) is available in 25 micrograms per actuation inhaler and 50 micrograms per actuation Accuhaler. Serevent 25mcg per actuation inhaler is a fully funded medicine , no special authority required, normal chemist fees apply. Serevent is a Prescription Medicine for the treatment of asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and chronic bronchitis. Use strictly as directed. The medicine in Serevent does not start working as quickly as a 'reliever puffer' such as Ventolin. Always carry a 'reliever puffer' with you. If you have an asthma attack, use your 'reliever puffer'. Do not use Serevent if: you are allergic to Serevent or any ingredients in the inhaler. Tell your doctor if you have: an allergy to any medicine, if you are having treatment for a thyroid problem, blood pressure, if you have a heart problem, or if your asthma is unstable or getting worse. Side Effects: “shaky” feeling, headache, fast heart rate, muscle cramps, pain in the joints, irritation in the nose and throat. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your doctor, pharmacist or health professional. Additional Consumer Medicine Information for Serevent is available at Normal doctor's office visit fees apply. Ask your doctor if Serevent is right for you.

Serevent and Accuhaler are trademarks of the GlaxoSmithKline group of companies. Marketed by GlaxoSmithKline NZ Limited, Auckland. TAPS No NA9889

What you should know about Flixotide.
Flixotide (fluticasone propionate) is available in Inhaler 25, 50, 125 or 250 micrograms per actuation and Accuhaler 50, 100, or 250 micrograms per actuation. Flixotide Inhalers are fully funded medicines, normal chemist fees apply. Flixotide Accuhaler is not fully funded; a part charge will apply. Prescription Medicine for the prevention of asthma. Use strictly as directed. Do not use Flixotide: if you have ever had an allergic reaction to fluticasone or lactose; or for sudden attacks of breathlessness. Always carry your reliever inhaler for use during acute attacks. Tell your doctor if you: are taking other medicines or herbal remedies; have had to stop taking other asthma medicines; have tuberculosis (TB) or other long-term lung infection. Do not discontinue Flixotide suddenly without consulting with your doctor. Side Effects: sore throat or tongue, hoarseness or throat irritation, skin reactions, shortness of breath and wheezing. Tell your doctor or pharmacist immediately if you have any concerns. If symptoms continue or you have side effects see your doctor or pharmacist. Additional Consumer Medicine Information for Flixotide is available at Normal doctor’s office visit fees apply. Ask your doctor if Flixotide is right for you.

Flixotide and Accuhaler are trademarks of the GlaxoSmithKline group of companies. Marketed by GlaxoSmithKline NZ Limited, Auckland. TAPS No NA9889

1) Serevent data sheet on file, or available online from the New Zealand Medsafe website at
2) Pearlman DS et al, New Eng J Med,327(20)1420-1425,1992
3) BTS/SIGN. British guideline on the management of asthma.Thorax.2003;58(suppl1):i1-i94
4) Global Initiative for Asthma; Global strategy for asthma management and prevention 2002; A stepwise approach to pharmacologic therapy pgs 114-132.
5) Flixotide data sheet on file, or available online from the New Zealand Medsafe website at
6) Asthma and Respiratory Foundation website; About asthma
7) Beasley R et al. The Global Burden of Asthma: executive summary of the GINA Dissemination Committee Report; Allergy 2004:59:469-478.
8) Beasley R et al. The Burden of Asthma in New Zealand. The Asthma & Respiratory Foundation of NZ Inc.2001 Dec:34-43.
9) Holt S et al. Asthma morbidity, control and treatment in New Zealand: results of the Patient Outcomes Management Survey (POMS),2001.NZ Med J 2003;116-1174/436.
10) IMS data: Reliever inhaler sales in the 12 months to September 03 were 1.58 million units – Each unit contains 200 puffs giving a total of 327 million puffs a year or 896,000 puffs a day. In July 03 reliever sales totalled 177,881 units – 35 million puffs or 1.15 million a day.

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