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Third of asthma sufferers ‘cut back on food to pay for medication’

Sufferers are facing an ‘impossible’ choice because of prescription charges, Asthma UK says.

(Brian Lawless/PA)
(Brian Lawless/PA)

Around 800,000 asthma sufferers in England have cut back on food to pay for their medication, a charity said.

More than a third (35%) of people with the condition have, at times, needed to make the sacrifice to cover the cost of their prescription, according to a survey by Asthma UK.

Many are facing an “impossible” choice between essentials and life-saving medicine, said Samantha Walker, director of research and policy at the charity.

The survey of 9,000 people with asthma, including around 7,500 who paid for their prescription, also found more than one in five (21%) have cut back on paying bills to pay for medication.

This puts them at risk of being hospitalised or even dying from an asthma attack Samantha Walker

This equates to an estimated 480,000 people in England, Asthma UK said.

“The stark reality is that hundreds of thousands of people with asthma are faced with an impossible choice – cut back on essentials like food and bills or cut back on the medication that could save their life,” Dr Walker said.

“People with asthma are struggling to pay for their prescriptions and around a million are cutting back on taking their medication because of the cost.

“This puts them at risk of being hospitalised or even dying from an asthma attack.”

Around 2.3 million people with asthma pay for their prescription in England, Asthma UK said.

The charity has launched a campaign – Stop Unfair Asthma Prescription Charges – in a bid to make medication free for those with the condition.

Prescription charges have been scrapped in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, while those in England with long-term conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy are entitled to a medical exemption certificate to avoid the cost.

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