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An analysis of the utilisation and expenditure of medicines dispensed for the management of severe asthma.There are approximately 6,300 people in Ireland with a diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and with a fast growing elderly population the incidence of COPD is likely to increase. This study examines the prescribing patterns of medicines dispensed for the management Asthma/COPD in patients over the age of 35 years using the HSE-Primary Care Reimbursement Services (PCRS) prescribing databases. The HSE-PCRS pharmacy claims data, which covers all those over 70 years of age and means tested for those less than 70 years, was analysed for the years 2005/2006. Approximately 26,548 (17.9%) of patients who were prescribed a respiratory drug received inhaled short-acting beta2 agonists in combination with a regular standard-dose inhaled corticosteroid. A further 5,044 (3.4%) were also prescribed a regular inhaled long-acting beta2 agonist (salmeterol or formoterol). A total of 2506 patients (6.2%) on combination therapy were co-prescribed four different anti-asthmatic treatments inclusive of oral prednisolone. A small proportion of the patients prescribed a respiratory drug were co-prescribed nicotine replacement therapy (n = 5177, 3.5%). In total there were 9,728 (6.2%) patients prescribed a mucolytic drug in combination with a respiratory drug and the rate of co-prescribing with antibiotics was 22%. COPD is a debilitating disease that is primarily caused by smoking and is therefore largely preventable. The HSE-PCRS pharmacy claims data is a valuable tool for helping to assess the burden of this disease in the Irish context.