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asthma medication changed to cheaper inhaler, which didnt work.. advice please

hi guys, sorry for the long explaination but i want you to understand whats going on...

I was on a symbicort turbohaler, for years, it worked beautifully, i havent had an asthma attack since i was put on it.. however my doctors decided to change my inhalers, to a cheaper verson of the symbicort called a duroresp spiromax, which as it had a different delivery system and the powder isnt as fine as the turbohaler, didnt work..

I contacted my doctors on thursday last week to tell them the inhalers didnt work properly, and i wanted to go back on the turbohaler which works perfectly, and was told i had to come down to the surgery to fill in a change of medication request form, so i forked out for bus fare and went all the way down there, only to have them fill the form in for me! they then said it would be a few days before it was sorted, so i called yesterday expecting the prescription to be done and was told yes id been put back on the old inhalers, a prescription had been done and sent to my pharmacy, and my repeat had also been changed.. i called my pharmacy to check id been given the right inhalers and was told id been given the spiromax inhaler - meaning they hadnt actually changed it at all !! i then called the doctors AGAIN and explained the inhalers hadnt been changed and was told i needed to speak to a doctor as i wanted to go on an old inhaler.. i explained that the old inhaler hadnt stopped working and the only reason it was changed was because the surgery was trying to save money by prescribing a cheaper version and said surely you can tell they were still working by looking at my file?!! but they refused to do anything and insisted i call up at 7:45am the next morning for a phone appointment with a doctor so i could get my inhalers!!!! they left me with an inhaler that doesnt work for a week because of all this bs!! i even tried speaking to the practice manager to get it sorted and was told she wasnt in until the middle of the following day (today)!!

So i called today for an appointment at 7:45am and booked one, no one called me so i called back as soon as i was able to, and was told they didnt have my number!! despite the fact id given it to them!! I told the receptionist its been a week and i still dont have an inhaler i explained everything id gone through so far to get an inhaler and she put my on hold, came back and said she d spoken to the doctor who has prescribed me another new inhaler, another cheaper version of the turbohaler!! ive just called my pharmacy to see what inhaler it is and what the dosage is and found out the new inhaler is a fostair inhaler, and that the dosage is 100/6!!! my turbohaler had a dosage of 200/6!!! so not only have they repeatedly changed inhalers but now theyve lowered my dosage - halved it in fact - without a medical exam!!!!

Ive since called the doctors surgery and asked them to have the practice manager to call me when she gets in.. but what do i do???!! they wont put me back on my turbohalers and are messing around with my medication.. medication that if it doesnt work could at best put me in hospital and at worst kill me...

surely they carnt do this?!!

14 Replies
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unfortunately it seems to be happening a lot. Can you ring the asthma UK helpline and chat to their nurses? or does your area have a healthwatch? health watch can support you you make a complaint. does your doctors have an asthma nurse?

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Hi I emphasise. My surgery played this scurvy trick on me as well changing my symbicort to DuoResp because it was a much cheaper generic version. It was awful and made me cough instead of helping and I asked the pharmacist and he said the ingredients were the same but the expedient was different. He said the particles in it were much finer.

However when I rang my doctors he put me back on symbicort without arguement so I guess I wasn't the first one to complain. Good luck with yours. x

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Of course they can't impose an inhaler you are not happy with. If i were you I would make a formal complaint to the surgery if it doesn't work complaint further to the NHS and if still doesn't work go to the Health Ombudsman who will sort it . But if you want to avoid all these complaints just change GP and see what happens.

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I'm on my third GP practice because of this issue. It seems there are too many surgeries that don't honour the 'partnership' between GP and patient, which should involve intelligent discussion and feedback

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Find another surgery. Ask around to see if anyone is registered with another place and they are any better than your jobsworth bunch.

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Please, please 🙏🏻 keep on at them. Don't give up and be too nice. My mother made that mistake and ultimately paid for it with her life 😢 Her inhaler wasn't giving her proper relief and after having the new pneumonia vaccine ended up with a mild dose of pneumonia which led to her having a massive asthma attack. As she hadn't persisted with nagging the doctors about changing her reliever, as her asthma was "under control", when she had the nasty attack she couldn't get any relief from her inhaler and the ambulance couldn't get to her in time 😢 I am so angry at these cost cutting efforts by surgeries because ultimately I lost my mother so needlessly😡😖!

I hope you get the situation sorted soon. All the best X

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Louise2421, so sorry to hear this. This has happened to me and I'm not sure how you tackle it.

Clinical guidelines clearly state that any change of medication should be done after consulting and discussing pros and cons with the patient. I've had a surgery do it, and a pharmacist, but it does keep happening. Every time I have challenged them and they have returned me to my medication which works. My worry is that this will happen when I am at a low ebb and not have the energy to query their decisions. All I can suggest is that you point out the clinical guidelines.

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Louise, hopefully you may have solved this by the time you read this. It may be a lack of communication within the surgery or between the surgery and the pharmacy - we get it all the time, and the practice manager should be able to sort it out. But, as others suggest, you do need to persist as there is little point being prescribed something which doesn't work, despite being cheaper; it is hardly likely to "break the bank" if a few patients don't respond to the cheaper generic version and need to revert to Symbicort.

I consider myself lucky that I have managed to persuade all the GPs in my surgery to change my inhaler 5 times because of problems I've had with them in the past year. It's all very stressful, but you need to keep the faith; I'm sure it will work out - after all, it's in everyone's interest that it does.

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Hi Louise,

I have been on both symbicort and fostair prescribed by my consultant. Fostair is not a cheaper version but actually had smaller particles and therefore is easier to inhale if you have particularly tight airways. I was on 400/12 on symbicort and now on 200/6 on fostair. There is no way they should be changing your inhalers without discussing this with you. Please fight to talk to someone.

Hope you get somewhere soon.

Charlotte x

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Shameful but they do..

If you need a spacer or an aerochamber it is a good argument, how can you fit those in, I ask for evohalers.

Good luck x

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What a SHAMBLES! I'd change Surgery, that's for sure! Luckily here in Jersey we don't have probs with the docs surgeries prob cos we pay thru the nose for everything! Basic GP visit is £42, (tho scripts are free).

DONT GIVE UP!

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Sorry, to hear your problems. I was also on Symbicort and got changed to the Duroresp, and had the same issues. It didn't work, I was really wheezy and felt a powdery coating in my mouth. I contacted my asthma nurse and was surprised but changed me straight back to symbicort.

It may be the same ingredients, but it definitely doesn't work the same, or is as effective!

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im extremely fed up with the whole thing! they took me off the symbicort turbohaler which worked that well, i didnt have asthma attacks and only had minor wheezing, to put me on a cheaper version which didnt work and ive now been forced to try the fostair inhaler which im not happy about as its an Mdi inhaler which ive told my doctors over and over i carnt take properly without a spacer and carrying a spacer around all the time isnt practical! i mean if i just wanna walk my dog ive gotta take a bag with my spacer in it?!!!!! ridiculous! really dont know what to do.. the doctors only cares about saving money.. my asthmas not been playing up recently so havent had a chance to see if the new inhaler (fostair) works or not, but even if it does it ll mean carrying a spacer round like im a child!

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hi guys, quick update: the fostair inhaler not only didnt work, it gave me some nasty symptoms, so called my docs again and the receptionist filled in a change on medication request form to get me switched back onto the turbohaler.. called my pharmacy two days later and they had a prescription for me for a turbohaler which she said was the 200/6 one i had before, however, when i collected the inhaler i noticed that whilst the label the pharmacy had put on the box said 200/6 the actual inhaler says 160/4.5, the instructiins say its the same as 200/6 but if that were the case why doesn't it say 200/6 on it?! the only way i can think of that it can be the same dosage is if theyve changed the powder in it to make it less fine.. im worried now that it wont work, as the spiromax inhaler was 160/4.5, and didnt work properly,but then the turbohaler is supposed to have a better delivery system, so guess i ll just have to wait and see.. hopefully it ll work, i dont relise another conversation with the doctors over this!!!!

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