Oral corticosteroids (OCS) are often referred to as “wonder drugs,” but a growing body of evidence indicates there are potentially serious short- and long-term unintended side effects of OCS overexposure.1 As such, it is a priority to minimize patient exposure where appropriate. Innovative treatment options target certain types of severe or difficult-to-control asthma in ways never before possible, reducing the need for OCS. Today, OCS use has become a signal that a patient may need an updated prevention and treatment plan, or support with adherence.
By thinking beyond the burst, you can support your patients with uncontrolled or severe asthma and help ensure that OCS treatment is reserved for when truly needed. If you treat patients with uncontrolled or severe asthma, download this discussion tool to review potential signs your patient’s asthma management plan may have failed. It is also important to ask your patients whether they have seen another healthcare professional for their uncontrolled or severe asthma, and especially whether they have been prescribed OCS elsewhere or intravenous steroids
When treating patients with asthma, adherence to medication should be assessed and an updated treatment plan should be considered if the patient2-5:
Even short-term low-dose use of OCS (less than 30 days) can result in serious health problems.1 One 2017 study revealed that U.S. patients using OCS short-term doubled their risk for fracture, tripled it for blood clots, and had a fivefold increased risk for sepsis.6
Other health risks include1:
*OCS should not be confused with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS).1
A survey of people with asthma by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) found that nearly 85 percent of respondents used at least one course of OCS in the previous 12 months and 64 percent had done so two or more times.7 Patients who take two or more courses of OCS in a 12-month span may have poorly controlled asthma and should speak with a primary care provider with expertise in asthma or a qualified asthma specialist. Download the full survey results here.Survey Results
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