While the 5th of May is most often thought of as Cinco de Mayo, the first Tuesday in May also marks another important day of awareness: World Asthma Day.
For more than 24 million Americans living with asthma, even routine, daily tasks can be daunting. Asthma, caused by inflammation in the air passages resulting from both genetic and environmental influences, narrows the airways to the lungs and makes breathing difficult. The experience can be painful and scary – and relief is not always quick.
So, who is at risk?
In 2009, among adults over 18 years, females were 76 percent more likely than males to have asthma. This ratio is reversed among children. The asthma prevalence rate for boys under 18 was 44 percent higher than the rate among girls. Due to this chronic disease, 40,000 Americans miss school or work due to asthma each day, costing the U.S. economy an estimated $56 billion each year in direct and indirect costs.
With advances in cutting-edge research, biopharmaceutical research companies are working on new treatments that will provide asthma patients with even greater ability to take back control of their lives. In fact, while the rate of diagnosis has increased, through innovative treatments, the number of asthma deaths has decreased by 26 percent since 1999.
Currently, America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are developing 74 medicines to treat or prevent asthma. All of the medicines are either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In addition, related medicines such as new inhalation therapies can help stimulate the natural immune defense to prevent the respiratory infections that often lead to inflammation of the airways.
While these treatments offer new hope to those with asthma, they cannot help unless people have access to their needed medicines. As this infographic demonstrates, health insurance exchange plans may impose a high out-of-pocket cost burden on asthma patients. More information about access to needed treatments is available on the Catalyst.
PhRMA’s From Hope to Cures has resources dedicated to increasing awareness about asthma as well as information about new treatments targeting this chronic condition. Please share these facts and figures with your family and friends as we work toward ensuring that all people with asthma symptoms can lead healthy, productive lives.