The US government is issuing new restrictions on four widely used asthma drugs – the long-acting beta agonists (LABAs), Foradil (formoterol fumarate), Serevent (salmeterol xinofoate), Advair (fluticasone propionate and salmeterol) and Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol fumarate dihydrate) – saying they should never be used without other asthma controllers to prevent a life-threatening risk.
These medications, which relax muscles in the lung’s airways, can be helpful for some patients but they may also mask symptoms that can trigger serious asthma attacks, especially in children.
An analysis of clinical trials showed that the severe worsening of asthma symptoms which can result from the use of these drugs can put patients in hospital and even result in death.
New labels are therefore to be required by the Food and Drug Administration stating that the drugs should be used for the shortest possible duration, and only in combination with other medications, such as inhaled steroids, that relieve airway inflammation.
See also: Asthma treatments – ancient and modern.
NB: This post is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.