Inhalers safe, ‘fish medicine’ not evidence-based: Doctors

Asthma, which till recently was considered not to be a major threat, is assuming epidemic proportions in the country. Five per cent of all adults and 10 per cent of children are down with this respiratory problem, doctors and pulmonologists say.

“This is a global phenomenon. The number of people down with asthma is going to touch the 40 crore by 2025 as against 30 crore,” said Ruby Pawankar, President of World Allergy Organisation.

She is in Hyderabad with regard to the WAO International Scientific Conference (WISC 2012) scheduled to be held from December 6-9 here.

She attributed the growth in asthma to urban lifestyle, poor ventilation, reduced biodiversity and pollution. There, however, is good news. It can be controlled if not cured completely. “There are myths around using inhalers. They are absolutely safe contrary to the perception that they could harm,” she said.

Vijai R. Kumar, President of Association of Respiratory Care (India), supported this view. “The drug doesn’t go into the system. When you take a steroid in the form of a tablet or injection, you have it in the system. But steroids taken through inhalers do not,” he added.

“Perhaps, no other drug in other diseases is tested as much as inhalers in asthma are. It has been studied exhaustively and found to be safe,” he said.

The theme of the conference is ‘Severe allergies, severe asthma: New strategies for treatment and prevention’. Representatives from about 80 countries are expected to attend the conference. Indian Health Minister Gulam Nabi Azad will inaugurate it on December 6 at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre at Madhapur.

On the cures outside of allopathic stream, Ruby said all therapies must be evidence based. “It is not evidence based and we (scientific community) can’t support any method that is not based on evidence,” she said.

Apart from asthma, several other allergies too were causing great financial burden, besides adversely impacting quality of life, she said.

(This article was published on December 5, 2012)
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