Red‐flagging the prescribing of oral corticosteroids for people with asthma

Christine F McDonald and Christopher J Worsnop
Med J Aust 2020; 213 (7): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50777
Published online: 5 October 2020

High cumulative doses are often unnecessary and can have major adverse effects

The isolation of compound E, later known as cortisone, from the adrenal gland in 1949 led to its use for treating many medical conditions; the first randomised controlled trial of its benefit for people with asthma was published in 1956.1 However, adverse effects are associated with cumulative corticosteroid doses, both with long term continuous use of low dose preparations and with repeated short courses of high dose preparations. The introduction in 1970 of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) revolutionised asthma management, providing anti‐inflammatory benefits with a markedly reduced side effect profile. Yet many people with asthma are less adherent to ICS use as preventive treatment than their health care professionals would wish. As many as 80% of patients do not adhere to preventive therapy as prescribed,2 and both practical and perceptual barriers to adherence have been described.3

  • Christine F McDonald
  • Christopher J Worsnop

  • Austin Hospital, Melbournne, VIC

Competing interests:

Christine McDonald has received speaker’s fees (paid to her organisation) from Menarini and Astra Zeneca. Christopher Worsnop has received speaker’s fees from HealthEd, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Cipla, Boehringer Ingelheim, Mundipharma, and Menarini.


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