Giving asthma patients on regular preventive* drugs the same drugs to relieve the symptoms of their condition, rather than conventional reliever** drugs, could reduce their risk of severe attacks and hospitalisations, according to an Article in this week’s issue of The Lancet.
In their trial, Klaus Rabe (Leiden University Medical Centre Leiden, Netherlands) and colleagues studied the effect of using of conventional preventive therapies as reliever therapies for asthma. The investigators assessed the effectiveness and safety of two beta agonists (terbutaline, formoterol) and one inhaled corticosteroid-beta agonist combination (budesonide-formoterol) given as reliever therapies to patients on a preventive drug combination (budesonide-formoterol). After 12 months the investigators found that budesonide-formoterol given as a reliever therapy to people already on the drug combination was the best option for reducing the risk of severe asthma attacks. The rate for severe asthma attack was 37, 29, and 19 per 100 patients per year for terbutaline, formoterol and budesonide-formoterol, respectively.
*Preventive therapy involves two classes of drugs (inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists) which control swelling and inflammation of the airways. The drugs prevent the airways from becoming sensitive to environmental triggers, such as house dust mites, and are used to help reduce the risk of asthma attacks.
**Reliever therapies are taken to ease the symptoms of asthma and are essential for treating asthma attacks.
Revision date: June 20, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.