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Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he will take to reduce the cost of asthma treatment to asthma sufferers in England; and if he will make a statement. [106910]

People, including those suffering from asthma, are entitled to free prescriptions if they are aged under 16, or under 19 and in full time education, or aged 60 or over, or they (or their partner) are receiving income support, income based jobseeker's allowance or are named on a national health service tax credit exemption certificate. They may also claim help under the NHS low income scheme. Subsequently, over 85 per cent. of all NHS prescription items are dispensed free of charge on the grounds of age or income level. We have no plans to change these arrangements.Patients who pay NHS prescription charges may benefit from using a prescription prepayment certificate. This may be particularly helpful if a patient requires a lot of or regular prescriptions. A four-monthly certificate costs £32.90 and an annual certificate costs £90.40. Prescription payment certificate holders pay no further charge at the point of dispensing and there is no limit to the number of items the holder may obtain with the certificate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of people with asthma had at least an annual review of their condition in the last year for which figures are available. [110660]

Information on the treatment an individual patient receives is not collected centrally.Under the terms of the chronic disease management programme for asthma, general practitioners are required to prepare with the patient an individual management plan. The question of the frequency of review is a purely clinical one and will depend on the circumstances of the individual patient.