Allergies Rampant, Poorly Treated in United Kingdom

Only six specialist centers for allergies available; most general practitioners poorly prepared

FRIDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- Allergies exert a major expense on society and appear to be rising in prevalence, yet the medical profession in the United Kingdom is handling allergies poorly, according to an editorial published in the June 21 issue of The Lancet.

In England, 3.3 million people have been diagnosed with allergic rhinitis, roughly the same proportion as in the United States, where in 2005 Americans spent $11 billion on medical care for allergy symptom relief. Doctors' bills accounted for one-third, with most of the rest going toward prescription drugs.

Only six centers in the United Kingdom specialize in allergy, according to the author, and general practitioners tend to be poorly trained regarding allergies. In addition, common interventions in preventing and treating allergies often run counter to the evidence base.

"People with allergies are being badly let down. There are inadequate facilities, resources and specialists to investigate, manage and treat them. But this disappointing situation could be turned around with the help of a health worker cadre that is frequently overlooked but often the first point of contact for people with allergies -- community pharmacists," the author writes. "Community pharmacists are keen, willing and able to do more in primary care and so should grab the opportunity to step up and fill the cavernous hole of allergy knowledge, treatment and management."


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