The Clinical Respiratory Journal (Dec 2022)

Overprescription of short‐acting β2‐agonists among patients with asthma in Saudi Arabia: Results from the SABINA III cohort study

  • Hamdan Al‐Jahdali,
  • Siraj Wali,
  • Amr S. Albanna,
  • Abeer Al Harbi,
  • Riyad Allehebi,
  • Abdulmajed Arwadi,
  • Tarek Dahan,
  • Mohamed Fattouh,
  • Ezzat Hamza,
  • Maarten Beekman

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 16, no. 12
pp. 812 – 825


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Abstract Despite near‐universal health care and timely updates to treatment guidelines in Saudi Arabia, asthma control remains suboptimal, warranting deeper exploration of its management practices. This study describes asthma characteristics and prescription patterns of short‐acting β2‐agonists (SABAs) in the Saudi Arabia cohort of the SABA use IN Asthma (SABINA) III study. Patients with asthma (aged ≥12 years) from seven sites across Saudi Arabia participated in this cross‐sectional study. Asthma severity was classified by study investigators, guided by the 2017 Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) recommendations. Of 511 patients enrolled, 502 patients, treated by respiratory medicine specialists, were analyzed (mean [standard deviation] age, 47.5 [14.8] years; female, 68.5%). Most patients had moderate‐to‐severe asthma (89.6%, GINA treatment steps 3–5), were overweight/obese (78.9%), and received full health care reimbursement (83.4%). Asthma was partially controlled/uncontrolled among 64.3% of patients; 62.3% experienced ≥1 severe asthma exacerbation(s), and 60.6% and 41.2% were prescribed ≥3 (overprescription) and ≥10 SABA canisters, respectively, in the 12 months preceding study initiation. Additionally, 21.9% of patients purchased SABA over the counter (OTC), of whom 66.4% purchased ≥3 SABA canisters. Ninety‐seven (88.2%) patients who purchased SABA OTC also received SABA prescriptions, and 80.4% and 56.7% of these were prescribed ≥3 and ≥10 SABA canisters, respectively. Overall, compared with SABINA III, a higher percentage of patients from Saudi Arabia were overprescribed SABA (60.6% vs. 38.0%, respectively) and purchased SABA OTC (21.9% vs. 18.0%, respectively), underscoring the need to align asthma treatment practices with current evidence‐based recommendations and regulate SABA OTC sales in Saudi Arabia.