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Respiration. 2014;88(4):346-52. doi: 10.1159/000363771. Epub 2014 Aug 29.

The importance of continuity in inhaler device choice for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine and Allergology, Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.


Inhaled therapies are central to the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Physicians consider many factors when selecting the most appropriate inhaler device, including device efficacy and the cost to the health care system. This review aims to discuss the factors that are important when considering inhaler devices and the importance of continuity in the choice of inhaler device. A large number of factors can contribute to therapeutic outcomes with inhalation devices. The inhalation technique is critical to treatment success and differs substantially between inhaler devices. Misuse of an inhaler is common, and thorough training of patients and physicians is important to ensure correct utilization. Patient satisfaction is an important consideration because it is significantly correlated with compliance and better outcomes. Financial pressures contribute to decision making: although selecting the less expensive inhaler device might reduce direct treatment costs, it can have a large impact on disease control and the patient's well-being. Switching may be associated with a poor inhalation technique, reduced disease control and quality of life, increased use of other treatments and health care resources, and a greater chance of unsuccessful treatment. Nonconsensual switches can result in patient discontent, reduced confidence in the medication, and uncertainty regarding the degree of disease control. It is recommended that patients with stable disease remain on their current device. If a switch is considered, the patient should be consulted and the physician should take into account the patient's preference, their ability to correctly use the device, and the availability of the preferred drug in the preferred device.

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