Cipla drives up asthma awareness in Andhra Pradesh

28th April 2010 | Hyderabad

Flags-off the first 'BreatheFree Yatra - A clinic on wheels' to offer free lung check-up to the masses

In an initiative to raise awareness on asthma and provide free diagnosis, lung tests and doctor consultation to the masses, Cipla, the leading pharmaceutical company flagged-off the first ‘Breathe Free Yatra – A clinic on wheels’ at Hyderabad today. A self-contained lung clinic with diagnostic tools such as Peak-Flow meter and Spirometer, educational materials, and a team of Cipla ‘Care and Educators’; the ‘Breathe Free Yatra – A clinic on wheels’ will cover 9 towns across Andhra Pradesh and will be joined by doctors at each of these locations. In a 9 day tour, the clinic will advance asthma awareness, identify undiagnosed and untreated asthma patients and also educate them on the importance of inhalation therapy to have their asthma under control. Touring across Nalgonda, Kodada, Vijaywada, Kakinada, Rajamundhry, Ongole, Nellore, Tirupati and Kurnool, the ‘Breathe Free Yatra – A clinic on wheels’ will return to Hyderabad on 7th May 2010.

With 30 million asthmatics in the country, India constitutes 10% of the world asthmatics which indicates that the asthma population in India is larger than the entire population of several countries. The scenario is worse as most in India are either unaware, undiagnosed or are sub-optimally treated for asthma thereby causing irreversible damage to their lungs. This is despite India having the latest, most effective and extremely affordable medicines to control asthma. The most effective asthma treatment – inhalation therapy is available in India at a price as low as Rs.4 to Rs.6 per day. But the cost of emergency treatment for uncontrolled asthma which could often include hospitalization besides other indirect expenses such as loss of day at work, shoots up the economic burden of the disease. An initiative like the ‘Breathe Free Yatra – A clinic on wheels’ could therefore be a step towards bringing down incidences and economic burden of asthma at least for a few families in Andhra Pradesh. To further support asthma patients and their families in understanding asthma, its symptoms, the triggers, and to remove the myths associated with the condition and its therapy , an extremely informative website – has been created by Cipla.

Commenting on ‘Breathe Free Yatra – A clinic on wheels,’ Mr. Rajeshkumar Regalla, Business Manager, Andhra Pradesh said, “We anticipate a good response to the ‘Breathe Free Yatra – A clinic on wheels’ initiative. We believe that through this initiative many will get their lungs checked for the first time ever, several new asthma cases will be identified in the region and many will have improved quality of life with the acceptance of inhalation therapy.” He also asserted, “Over the years we have seen that asthma patients in small town and rural India tend to be better controlled than patients in Mumbai or Delhi as they have an increased need to adhere to the treatment. They don’t want to miss out of their work or have incidents of hospitalization and are able to readily adapt to the prescribed inhaled drugs on experiencing the benefits.”

At each of the towns, a team of volunteers would be doing rounds two days in advance to inform people about the time and venue at which they could avail these free lung tests and doctor consultation. When the ‘Breathe Free Yatra – A clinic on wheels’ reaches each of these locations, the Cipla ‘Care and Educators’ will screen each walk-in with ‘Peak-Flow meter’ – a diagnostic tool to measure lung power. The doctors could further direct them to take a Spirometer test and prescribe treatment accordingly to those with a poor reading of the lungs. In the next 8 days, the ‘Breathe Free Yatra – A clinic on wheels’ will enthuse awareness towards lung healthcare in Andhra’s towns.

Commenting on the Breathefree Yatra – A clinic on wheels at the press conference, Dr. Ashfaq Hasan, Head of Pulmonary Medicine, Owaisi Hospital and Care Hospital said, “Diagnosed asthma even today constitutes the tip of iceberg. I congratulate the members of Cipla for this great initiative. Public awareness of this common and potentially destructive condition is vital to the avoidance of considerable preventable morbidity in the community.”

Sharing his thoughts on the Breathefree Yatra initiative, Dr. R. Vijaikumar, Director, Pulmonary Medicine at Yashoda Hospital, Secunderabad said, “Today we know much more about asthma in India than 40 years ago. We have better understanding of asthma as a disease and better medicines are also made available for asthma treatment. This remarkable change is due to the constant efforts put by pharmaceutical companies such as Cipla. Now, this knowledge and these facilities need to be carried to the suffering population. Rough estimates shows that 10% of populations have got different degrees of asthma. By a conservative estimate, India will be having additional 4.5 crores of asthmatics in another 6 years. A person suffering from asthma should know that diagnosis of asthma followed by treatment will make him free from asthma. Today, this project by Cipla is essential to create such an awareness to bridge the gap of communications.

About Asthma:
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disorder of the lungs in which there is inflammation (swelling) of the airways in our lungs. Due to this inflammation, the airways are narrowed and the lung becomes vulnerable to various allergens which act as triggers for an asthma attack. Dust, cold, pollen, furry pets, and viruses, smoking and air pollutants, and even emotional agitation act as triggers for an asthma attack. When a person comes in contact with a trigger, the inflamed airways are irritated leading to tightening of the muscles and excess mucus production which further constricts the passages, thereby inhibiting normal breathing and this at times could even turn fatal.

The usual manifestations of asthma are repeated episodes of chest tightness, difficulty in breathing and cough. In children asthma often manifests through a single symptom like cough which is more severe at night or early in the morning and remains persistent despite intake of various cough syrups and medications. Asthma symptoms vary from person to person and it is important to watch them carefully for a correct diagnosis by the doctor.
Although asthma is not curable, it is possible to gain complete control over it and lead a normal active life.

There are several therapies and forms of treatment for asthma available in the market. However, it has now been accepted globally that the best and safest way to take asthma medication is by inhalation as it reaches your lungs directly and starts acting immediately. But if you are on tablet or syrup the medication takes time to act as the medicine has to pass from the stomach to the blood and finally to the lungs. This could also result in several side effects. It is to be noted that in inhalation therapy, the dosage needed is up to 50 times lesser than syrups or tablets and far more effective.

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About Cipla:
Cipla laid foundations for the Indian pharma industry way back in 1935. At a time when the British ruled India and medicines were neither readily available nor affordable, Dr. K. A. Hamied founded Cipla towards making the country self-reliant in healthcare. He built Cipla with a promise “Never again will India be starved of essential drugs.”

Over the years Cipla has grown to be one of the most respected names in pharmaceuticals not just in India but worldwide. It’s state- of -the art R&D centre has given the country and the world many firsts. This includes the revolutionary AIDS cocktail for less than a dollar a day. With over 40 manufacturing units across the country, Cipla manufactures over 1200 products in various categories and has a presence in crop care and veterinary too.

With a turnover of over 5000 crores, Cipla today serves doctors and patients in over 176 countries. It has earned a name for maintaining one global standard across all its products and services. Cipla continues to support, improve and save millions of lives with its innovative drugs and devices.