RCGP Scotland comment regarding the Scottish Government's work on reducing the environmental impact of inhalers

Commenting on behalf of the Royal College of GPs Scotland and Asthma + Lung UK regarding the Scottish Government's work on reducing the environmental impact of inhalers, Dr Munro Stewart, climate and sustainability clinician representative for RCGP Scotland said:

"The Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland, and Asthma + Lung UK Scotland welcome the Scottish Government’s work on improving asthma and COPD care and reducing the environmental impact of inhalers. We see this as a golden opportunity to improve respiratory care to meet the standards of our European neighbours where the majority of inhalers prescribed are lower carbon dry powder inhalers.

"The priority for GPs is to support patients to optimise control of their condition. Contrary to recent alarming reports in the media, we are not aware of any plan to switch people to a different type of inhaler without their agreement. Most patients with asthma and COPD can use low carbon inhaler devices and many patients find them easier to use. These patients should be offered a choice of inhaler device.

‘It’s not just about which inhaler someone uses, we know that if asthma or COPD are well managed, that this is the best outcome for patients and the environment. Taking a preventer inhaler every day as prescribed, results in fewer symptoms and using fewer reliever inhalers overall. Everyone should be supported to use the right inhaler technique, with an inhaler that suits them, to help keep asthma and COPD symptoms under control. Good inhaler technique ensures that medicine gets into your airways, where it ’is needed."

"The wellbeing of asthma and COPD patients is of paramount importance to us, and these plans will be good news for individuals with these conditions as well as for the environment. GPs will continue to work closely with their patients to strive for the best possible asthma and COPD care. We recommend that patients with asthma and COPD should ensure that they respond to invitations from their GP practice for an annual review to ensure their care plan is up-to-date. For advice and information, you can also speak to an Asthma + Lung UK specialist nurses, on 0300 222 5800 between 9am and 5pm."

Further information

Media requests to Angus Gould
RCGP Scotland Policy and Public Relations Officer
Tel: 07808 795493

Notes to editor

  1. The UK has one of the worst rates of asthma mortality in Europe. We are also an outlier amongst our European neighbours in terms of the much higher proportion of metered dose inhalers devices (sometimes called aerosol inhalers) that we prescribe. In most of Europe, the majority of patients are prescribed dry powder inhalers, which have a vastly lower environmental impact.
  2. Many patients find dry powder inhalers, easier and more convenient to use and therefore better for their disease control. Dry powder inhalers also come with dose counters which may help people keep track of their medication use. People may also want to be offered the choice of a greener inhaler that works well for them.
  3. The NHS Scotland Climate Emergency and Sustainability Strategy 2022-26 can be found on the GOV.Scot website.

RCGP Scotland represents a network of around 5,000 doctors in Scotland aiming to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standard of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on resources, education, training, research, and clinical standards.