19 May 2022

4,065 people in Kildare used steroid tablets for asthma between November 2018 and October 2020

The findings come from The Asthma Society of Ireland

The findings come from The Asthma Society of Ireland

Recent research has found that 4,065 people in Kildare used steroid tablets for asthma between November 2018 and October 2020.

The findings, which come from The Asthma Society of Ireland, show that 27 per cent of all asthma patients were prescribed Oral Corticosteroids (steroid tablets) in the past year.

The Asthma Society of Ireland (ASI) is highlighting the widespread use of prescribed Oral Corticosteroids among the 380,000 people with asthma in Ireland and the harmful effects associated with repeated use of the medication.

Almost 102,000 people who filled a prescription for asthma inhalers from a retail pharmacy in 2020 also filled a prescription for Oral Corticosteroids with 4,065 people in Kildare using the medication, according to new HMR research released last week.

Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland explained the background to the research: "Our aim is to educate the public on what Oral Corticosteroid medication is, and to understand when they should and should not be used.

"If a person with asthma is experiencing continued bouts of asthma attacks despite taking their controller and reliever medication as prescribed, I would like to encourage them to contact their GP and request an asthma review and an updated personalised Asthma Action Plan."

She added: "This recommendation has been made in the Global Initiative for Asthma guidelines for healthcare professionals.

However, do not stop OCS therapy without talking to your doctor first as doing so could be dangerous."

The Country Director of AstraZeneca, Dan Wygal, also commented on the report: "We are delighted to support the Asthma Society in this important piece of work.

Today’s research highlights major challenges with achieving optimal asthma management by patients and clinicians alike."

"It is essential that patients receive the appropriate treatment and know when to speak to their clinician should their symptoms exacerbate," he concluded.

The ASI encourages people with asthma who have needed steroid tablets twice in one year to seek an asthma review with their doctor.

What are Oral Corticosteroids?

Oral Corticosteroids (OC) are an anti-inflammatory medicine prescribed for a wide range of conditions, including asthma and COPD.

They are typically prescribed for two purposes in asthma - short courses are commonly used to treat asthma attacks or they can be prescribed as ongoing daily maintenance therapy for people with severe asthma.

However, OCs can be associated with significant harmful side effects as a result of long-term use: short term side effects can include Sleep disturbance, GERD (reflux) and appetite increase, while long term side effects can include diabetes, depression and osteoporosis.

Research now indicates that even occasional short courses of OCs can be associated with increased health risks.

Breakdown of findings:

The research revealed that whilst there was an overall decrease in people being prescribed the medication in 2020, down by 20 per cent during the months of the pandemic, the numbers of people with asthma who needed the medication, and the frequency of use, remain high.

82,500 people with asthma collected up to two OC prescriptions over a 12-month period – an indication that they may not have their asthma under control.

The continual need to prescribe steroid tablets for a patient with mild to moderate asthma should signify that they need a review by their GP. The person with asthma may not be taking their “controller” inhaler every day or they may not be using it properly.

Figures indicate OC use amongst children fell by almost a third from 2018 to 2020 by 31 per cent compared to 10 per cent among adults during the same period.

The Asthma Society of Ireland’s mission is to stop asthma deaths in Ireland, and represent 380,000 people with asthma in Ireland. 

The Asthma Adviceline is available on 1800 44 54 64, and further information can be found at

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