NHS Cancelling my mdedication

The nurse at my doctors surgery just called me and advised that "due to the NHS cutting costs" I would have to change my medication. I have been asthmatic since birth and struggled in the last couple of years to control it (I just turned 27) finally finding the right medication after a flare up for around 2 years. Now everything is well controlled unless I have a cold etc.

She said it was the Seretide 250 they had to stop for now but can they actually do this? Her attitude was change to the cheaper alternative or pay for it yourself! I am worried they will also stop the Ventolin 100, I have tried the cheaper alternative several times, usually once every 5 years the chemist messes up so I give it a try. Each time, despite doctors saying there is no difference I have a shaking fit and become really faint.

I just want to check this is actually happening and it isn't my doctors surgery's way of cutting their costs. I rarely go to the doctors but I am really disappointed if this is a reality but will definitely move doctors if that is what they are having to do.

17 Replies

  • Hi Toniuk,88 I think the only answer is the helpline they will have all the latest info. I am on q var so a different regime to you take care ♥♥♥

  • From some of the posts of the past few months I get the feeling that you are not the first (nor will be the last I suspect) to be told that you are being take off Seretide for one reason or another. I really do not believe that Asthma UK are not aware of what is going on, but as far as I am aware they have done nothing to raise public awareness of it - which is disappointing (apols to Asthma UK if I'm wrong about this).

    There have been postings on this forum saying that Seretide is being phased out (don't know how true that is, or if that is just a ruse being used to get people to switch on to something cheaper). As starveycat has said, use the Asthma UK helpline to find out the truth of what is going on and what you can do about it.

    It really is appalling. Asthma kills three people in the UK every day. Bad enough that the sufferers are not eligible for free prescriptions (though given the number of sufferers and the financial state of the NHS one can understand why). But to then have one of the most effective medications available denied to sufferers of the condition because it is supposedly 'too expensive' is nothing short of disgraceful. It really does feel sometimes that asthmatics are continually being pushed to the back of the NHS priority queue.

    Apologies for my rant - but I suspect I'm not the only one who's feeling frustrated by this.

  • I haven't had my asthma medication changed but they have done it with other meds. Managed to get changed back after the new stuff didn't work out, there are differences . Good luck.

  • Thank you! I'm seeing the nurse next week so we shall see. I definitely react differently to salbutamol but hope the new stuff will be alright!

  • Good luck!

  • I am on Seretide 250 and have not had any suggestion of it being expensive or being phased out. I was prescribed it by my consultant at Harefield Hospital and get my repeats from my GP .

  • I think I'd go on the offensive and ask if they can't afford the drugs will they be able to afford the hospital care you'll end up needing?! Sadly though that's probably a different budget so it might have no effect at all :(

  • Hi,

    I also got a letter from GP saying that Seretide will be changed to Sirdupla due to cutting costs! Planning to ask my consultant about that - will be seeing him next week

  • I was given sirdupla by the pharmacist last month cos my prescription doesn't say seretide it says fluticasone / salmeterol

    Thankfully i didn't notice any difference so i'd say give the sirdupla a try, it might be ok

  • Hi, I am going for my yearly check up,today so will see if they try and change the meds. I have chronic asthma since 6 years old and now am 58. It's well controlled with Seretide 100 and ventolin when needed so I am lucky that it has settled down so much in the last 5 years apart from a few times needing preds.

    If they are trying to,phase out Seretide because it's too expensive then Asthma UK needs to look into this. Changing people's meds because of price is irresponsible and dangerous,but alas this government is intent on taking the NHS into private hands and cheap prescriptions could soon be a thing of the past.

  • Actually it's not due to cost, but due to its increased risk of asthma death or pneumonia. They couldn't take it off before as there were too few alternatives, but now they have better alternatives they can remove it. There are a couple of meds out there which are more expensive but do the same job so it's really not due to cost.

    I had to switch to Symbicort (which I don't like and am hoping to change today), my best friend was switched to Flutiform (the inhaler I would prefer), and there are Fostair and Spiriva too, although these are for over 18s only. You could also get two separate inhalers if you are good with your meds and you can get a more suitable combo that way. I am annoyed too, because I was doing so well on Seretide, but needs must. Besides, I'd rather have a safer inhaler!

  • This happened to me.. a nhs nurse came in and changed my medication.My gp told me they are doing it in my area with all asthma patients trying to cut costs, even though I asked the nhs nurse outright was it a cost cutting exercise she denied it.. I have a few other illnesses and the new medication caused me terrible migraines and four days feeling really lousy and in pain.Plus i had a mild asthma attack.. I went to my gp and told him and he changed me right back to seretide, saying he had the authority to change it as my other illness and side effects weren't considered, I have a benign brain cyst, a bit on the large side and some medications trigger horrifying pain.. I am in Wales so the nhs is slightly different here from other uk areas, that' s polite way of saying its a total mess.

  • Servewithmintsauce, I don't wish to doubt what you say (and please correct me if I am wrong) but if I recall correctly you were given this information by a nurse whilst you were in hospital? I would love to see the stats that prove what you were told. I am aware (and have been for some time) of a problem with serevent (the salmeterol only inhaler) but that is another matter entirely.

    Seretide combines fluticasone (one of the more potent steroids used for asthma inhalers) with salmeterol. I myself am on flixotide (the fluticasone only inhaler) and you would have thought that if there was a problem with Seretide, flixotide would also be under scrutiny. I reviewed my inhalers with my GP less than a year ago; nothing was mentioned.

    The problem with the cheaper alternatives is that what so many doctors and nurses don't seem to appreciate is that different asthmatics respond well to different drugs/combination of drugs. Just because someone responds well to the fluticasone/salmeterol combination, it does not necessarily follow that they will respond equally well to a beclometasone/formeterol combo. I seem to recall reading somewhere that fluticasone was one of the more potent steroids available for use in inhalers for asthma. That doesn't surprise me. Years ago I used to be on becotide (a beclometasone only inhaler) - it was never fully effective. I got switched onto the equivalent dose of flixotide when we moved to a different part of the country. For the past twenty years my asthma has, for the most part, been very well controlled.

    Whatever the truth of this is, what is not helpful is that there seems to be a number of different stories out there: a) Seretide is being phased out because of concerns over increased risk to asthma death/pneumonia or b) some areas are phasing it out due to cost. I also seem to recall people reporting that they were taken off it because of the number of 'side effects', this last despite the fact that that is a known problem of any steroid inhaler.

    Finally, Toniuk88, if you really do have to switch, ask if they will let you try flixotide. Then at least you will have the same steroid that your system is used to. Keep smiling, you have the support and understanding of everyone on this site.

  • I'm currently still on this medication and I have not heard anything about them stopping it. However, I have recently changed doctor surgeries and I am going there on Wednesday to get my medication put onto their system so I will see what happens then. However, I do have a consultant and I should hope that they wouldn't change my nedication without speaking to them first.

  • this is because they are trying to get patients off seritide, as it is not good you you long term, they are trying to transfer patients to a slightly lower dose of steriod, in the form of quavair, symbicort and fostair etc..., (I did work experince and spent time in the asthma clinic).

  • Wif all else fails then you can write a letter to your local NHS Trust explaining your situation. My partner did this a few years ago when they removed a certain type of pain killer from his prescription because the NHS would not prescribe it any longer due to side effects. He did try other painkillers but they did not work for him and one actually had him flaking out as well as not helping with the sever pain he endures.

    Hope you get the medication you need.

    Love and hugs



  • Sophia2000, if doctors are trying to get people off Seretide for the reason you state it's a shame they can't be more open and honest about it. Personally, given the variety of excuses for the switch I've seen reported on the forum, I have my doubts.

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