Asthma UK has issued advice for healthcare professionals in response to media coverage generated by an editorial published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine on a 2003 US clinical trial into long-acting reliever inhalers.
Professor Martyn Partridge, Chief Medical Adviser at Asthma UK, comments: ‘Inhaled steroids remain the most effective medicine available for those with asthma. For those not fully controlled on low dose inhaled steroids the addition of a long acting inhaled beta agonist (LABA) has been shown to improve control, as have to a lesser extent the addition of theophylline or a leukotriene modifier.’
‘The report of adverse effects with long acting inhaled beta agonists is not new and there was a statistically non significant excess of deaths in those on Salmeterol in the original post marketing surveillance study a decade or so ago. Some excess risk may reflect genetic or racial differences not yet taken into account in clinical trials, and some reflects monotherapy i.e. those with socioeconomic deprivation taking the Salmeterol and not the inhaled cortico steroid. Such monotherapy has never been a part of British Asthma Guideline on the Management of Asthma.’