Supermarket retailer Asda announced last week that from today, it will be selling blue inhalers over the counter without prescription.
Asthma sufferers aged 16 or over will be able to buy two of “reliever” inhalers from in-store pharmacies for just £7; cheaper than the standard prescription charge of £7.65, according to Asda.
Asda pharmacist Faisal Tuddy said in a statement: “Asthma is a condition that affects millions of UK residents and it can often prove to be stressful trying to book a GP appointment when your inhaler is running low.”
Customers will need to see a qualified pharmacist and fill in a questionnaire about their condition before buying the inhalers.
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According to the BBC, customers will be limited to two inhalers at a time which will have to last them eight weeks.
According to Asthma UK, 1 in 12 adults are currently receiving treatment for asthma in the UK.
Some of Team GB’s brightest gold medal hopefuls for 2012 have asthma, including Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins.
Talking about his asthma, cyclist Bradley said in a statement: "It’s only a hindrance if you make it one – it does sound quite bad if you are diagnosed with asthma and your natural instinct is to think that’s it. But there is better medicine available now and I am an Olympic champion – the evidence is out there that you can succeed."
Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma include coughing, wheezing, chest-tightness and difficulty in breathing.
Inhaled steroids are the most effective drugs for long-term control of asthma and prevention of exercise-induced asthma.
Asda say the decision to sell over-the-counter inhalers comes in response to customer feedback.
Cher Piddock, lead asthma nurse at Asthma UK, told the Daily Mail: "People with asthma will value being able to access inhalers more easily and pharmacists are a good source of advice about asthma medicines, so we’re interested to see how this will work."
Piddock also cautioned that anyone using their blue reliever more than twice a week might have out-of-control symptoms and urged Asda to be clear about their procedures to prevent misuse.