A new inhaler design could help thousands of Kiwis suffering from a respiratory disease.

The design of the Ellipta inhaler, funded by Pharmac, allows asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients to take one correct dosage every day, rather than take several every day.

GlaxoSmithKline New Zealand medical director doctor Ian Griffiths said Ellipta was designed to help patients get the correct dose and reduce handling errors that standard puffers could cause.

"With the standard puffer, you need to shake it, coordinate your breath in, and take the correct number of puffs, day and night.


"All of these steps can lead to potential errors and incorrect dosage," he said. In the Ellipta inhaler, the medicines were taken in one inhalation once a day.

The medicines were kept in separate in foil strips and then mixed at the time of the inhalation.

Head of Respiratory Research at the Sydney-based George Institute for Global Health, Professor Norbert Berend, said a majority of patients had difficulties using standard inhalers correctly.

They might not get an adequate dosage of medication and could experience worse symptoms and more asthma attacks, he said.

"Those most likely to benefit from the new inhaler technology are asthma or COPD patients who have difficulty managing their inhalers or who have trouble remembering to take their medications regularly, for whom the use of these new medications is indicated," he said. He said clinical evidence showed 98 per cent of patients were able to use the pre-filled Ellipta device correctly from the first day.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma in New Zealand

• COPD is often undiagnosed and at least 200,000 New Zealanders could be affected.

• New Zealand also has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world, with nearly 8000 people hospitalised each year.

• About 65 people die every year as a result of the disease.

• Hospitalisation rates are highest for Maori, at more than three times that of non-Maori.