NPN | Pharmacy Holds the Key to Correct Inhaler Use

“We know that up to 90% of people who use inhalers can’t use them correctly”, said Darush Attar-Zadeh, a member of the taskforce and community pharmacist. “With more than 1.6 million people visiting a community pharmacy each day, pharmacists are well placed to help patients with their inhaled medication.”

The taskforce has estimated that 3.3 million people each year may be missing out on learning to use their inhalers as intended. “Correct inhaler technique can be tricky, especially as models differ,” but it’s important that patients are given full guidance in order to manage their condition and prevent it from worsening.

Evidence can be found in the data published by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities which found 30,577 people were admitted to hospital for emergency asthma treatment in 2020.

Unfortunately, the NHS lacks the capacity and workforce to support all of the patients in need of these crucial asthma checks - and COVID-19 has left primary care services buried in backlogs.

However, pharmacies are perfectly placed to alleviate the strain GPs are experiencing. With 99% of communities living within a 20 minute walk of a community pharmacy, even the most deprived areas could access much needed care through their local pharmacy team.

“Community pharmacies need to be recognised as a vital resource and used to support people living with lung conditions at a time when health services are increasingly stretched,” said Lottie Renwick, the vice-chair of the Taskforce for Lung Health and senior policy officer at Asthma + Lung UK.

The PSNC have been asking the NHS and government for a “properly commissioned” check service for inhaler techniques, as Alastair Buxton revealed to Chemist and Druggist on the 11th April:

“Pharmacy teams support these patients through the new medicine service, but regular reviews of inhaler technique are required for maximal impact. This should be commissioned via the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework, and it would require additional funding over and above the current contract sum.”


With additional funding, your community pharmacy would be able to provide an annual inhaler technique check service. In the meantime, if you have questions about your inhaler for asthma, it’s still possible to pop into your local pharmacy to discuss it with the team, who will be able to help or guide you towards the necessary service you need.