Divergent strategies have emerged for the management of severe asthma. One strategy utilises high and fixed doses of maintenance treatment, usually inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting β2-agonist (ICS/LABA), supplemented by a short-acting β2-agonist (SABA) as needed. Alternatively, budesonide/formoterol is used as both maintenance and reliever therapy. The latter is superior to fixed-dose treatment in reducing severe exacerbations while achieving similar or better asthma control in other regards. Exacerbations may be reduced by the use of budesonide/formoterol as reliever medication during periods of unstable asthma. We examined the risk of a severe exacerbation in the period after a single day with high reliever use.
Episodes of high reliever use were quantified and exacerbations occurring post-index day with these episodes were examined post hoc in two double-blind studies comparing the efficacy and safety of budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy (Symbicort SMART™, Turbuhaler®) 160/4.5 μg twice daily plus as needed with similar or higher maintenance doses of ICS/LABA plus SABA or formoterol.
Budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy significantly reduced the risk of episodes of high reliever use (>6 inhalations/day) vs. all alternative ICS/LABA regimens. With conventional fixed-dose treatment the need for exacerbation treatment within 21 days ranged from 6.0–10.1% of days post-index for all regimens compared with 2.5–3.4% of days with budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy.
Budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy reduces the incidence of high reliever episodes and the exacerbation burden immediately following these episodes vs. alternative ICS/LABA plus SABA regimens at up to double the maintenance dose of ICS.
These studies do not have registration numbers as they were conducted before clinical trial registration was required
Asthma; Asthma in primary care
Formoterol has a fast onset of action and can therefore be used to relieve symptoms of asthma. A combination inhaler can deliver formoterol with different doses of inhaled corticosteroid; when used as a reliever both drugs will be delivered more frequently when asthma symptoms increase. This has the potential to treat both bronchoconstriction and inflammation in the early stages of exacerbations.
To assess the efficacy and safety of combined inhalers containing both formoterol and an inhaled corticosteroid when used for reliever therapy in adults and children with chronic asthma.
We last searched the Cochrane Airways Group trials register in April 2009, and no new studies were found for inclusion in the review.
Randomised trials in adults and children with chronic asthma, where a combination inhaler containing formoterol and inhaled corticosteroid is compared with fast-acting beta2-agonist alone for the relief of asthma symptoms. This should be the only planned difference between the trial arms.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently extracted the characteristics and results of each study. Authors or manufacturers were asked to supply unpublished data in relation to primary outcomes.
Three trials involving 5905 participants were included. In patients with mild asthma who do not need maintenance treatment, no clinically important advantages of budesonide/formoterol as reliever were found in comparison to formoterol as reliever.
Two studies enrolled patients with more severe asthma who were not controlled on high doses of inhaled corticosteroids (around 700 mcg/day in adults), and had suffered a clinically important asthma exacerbation in the past year. Hospitalisations related to asthma in the two studies comparing budesonide/formoterol for maintenance and relief with the same dose of budesonide/formoterol for maintenance with terbutaline for relief yielded an odds ratio of 0.68 (95% CI 0.40 to 1.16), which was not a statistically significant reduction. In adults there was a reduction in exacerbations requiring oral corticosteroids compared to terbutaline, odds ratio 0.54 (95% CI 0.44 to 0.65), which translates into a number needed to treat over 12 months of 15 (95% CI 13 to 21). The study in children found less serious adverse events with budesonide/formoterol used for maintenance and relief. There was no significant difference in annual growth in children using budesonide/formoterol reliever in comparison to terbutaline.
In mild asthma it is not yet known whether patients who use a budesonide/formoterol inhaler for relief of asthma symptoms derive any clinically important benefits. In more severe asthma, two studies enrolled patients who were not controlled on inhaled corticosteroids, and had suffered an exacerbation in the previous year, and then had their maintenance inhaled corticosteroids reduced in both arms of the study. Under these conditions the studies demonstrated a reduction in the risk of exacerbations that require oral corticosteroids with budesonide/formoterol for maintenance and relief in comparison with budesonide/formoterol for maintenance and terbutaline or formoterol for relief. The incidence of serious adverse events in children was also less using budesonide/formoterol for maintenance and relief in one study, which similarly enrolled children who were not controlled on inhaled corticosteroids, and who had their maintenance inhaled corticosteroids reduced at the start of the study. This study also compared an explorative maintenance dose of budesonide/formoterol that is not approved for treatment.
Administration, Inhalation; Anti-Asthmatic Agents [*administration & dosage]; Asthma [*drug therapy]; Bronchial Diseases [drug therapy]; Bronchodilator Agents [*administration & dosage]; Budesonide [*administration & dosage]; Chronic Disease; Constriction, Pathologic [drug therapy]; Drug Combinations; Ethanolamines [*administration & dosage]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Terbutaline [administration & dosage]; Adolescent; Adult; Child; Humans
The use of a combination inhaler containing budesonide and formoterol as both maintenance and quick relief therapy (SMART) has been recommended as an improved method of using inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting β agonist (ICS/LABA) therapy. Published double-blind trials show that budesonide/formoterol therapy delivered in SMART fashion achieves better asthma outcomes than budesonide monotherapy or lower doses of budesonide/formoterol therapy delivered in constant dosage. Attempts to compare budesonide/formoterol SMART therapy with regular combination ICS/LABA dosing using other compounds have been confounded by a lack of blinding and unspecified dose adjustment strategies. The asthma control outcomes in SMART-treated patients are poor; it has been reported that only 17.1% of SMART-treated patients are controlled. In seven trials of 6–12 months duration, patients using SMART have used quick reliever daily (weighted average 0.92 inhalations/day), have awakened with asthma symptoms once every 7–10 days (weighted average 11.5% of nights), have suffered asthma symptoms more than half of days (weighted average 54.0% of days) and have had a severe exacerbation rate of one in five patients per year (weighted average 0.22 severe exacerbations/patient/year). These poor outcomes may reflect the recruitment of a skewed patient population. Although improvement from baseline has been attributed to these patients receiving additional ICS therapy at pivotal times, electronic monitoring has not been used to test this hypothesis nor the equally plausible hypothesis that patients who are non-compliant with maintenance medication have used budesonide/formoterol as needed for self-treatment of exacerbations. Although the long-term consequences of SMART therapy have not been studied, its use over 1 year has been associated with significant increases in sputum and biopsy eosinophilia. At present, there is no evidence that better asthma treatment outcomes can be obtained by moment-to-moment symptom-driven use of ICS/LABA therapy than conventional physician-monitored and adjusted ICS/LABA therapy.
Budesonide; formoterol; compliance; asthma control; exacerbation; study design; asthma; asthma guidelines; asthma pharmacology; perception of asthma/breathlessness
Symbicort SMART® (Symbicort Maintenance and Reliever Therapy) represents a new and unique way of treating patients with moderate-to-severe asthma, ie, those patients who require combination treatment with an inhaled corticosteroid and a long-acting inhaled β2-agonist. Symbicort SMART enables patients to use only one inhaler, the budesonide-formoterol combination inhaler, for both maintenance and reliever therapy. The maintenance dose is adjustable, but should be a minimum of two doses per day which can be administered as two doses once daily or as one dose twice daily. It is important that the temporary reliever medication includes not only a bronchodilator but also an antiinflammatory drug because worsening of asthma includes not only more airway narrowing, but also an increase in airway inflammation. The Symbicort SMART concept therefore ensures that the patient gets an antiinflammatory drug at the time of the first signs of asthma worsening. Clinical results show that Symbicort SMART prolongs the time to the first severe asthma exacerbation, reduces the rate of exacerbations, and maintains day-to-day asthma control at a reduced load of corticosteroids (inhaled plus systemic) when compared with higher fixed maintenance doses of combination inhalers. Symbicort SMART consequently offers a more effective and simple approach to asthma management for physicians and patients. Symbicort SMART is also easier for the patient as only one inhaler is required. The positive results with Symbicort SMART can be explained by the early as-needed use on the inhaled corticosteroid component, which puts out the early flames of inflammation, together with the interaction between the β2-agonist, formoterol, and the inhaled corticosteroid, budesonide.
asthma control; combination therapy; inhaled corticosteroid; long-acting β2-agonist; Symbicort SMART® (Symbicort Maintenance and Reliever Therapy)
The long-acting β2-agonist (LABA) formoterol has an onset of effect comparable to that of salbutamol. Consequently, the combination of formoterol and budesonide in one inhaler, approved for maintenance use, can potentially be used for reliever therapy. This study compared the onset of relief from induced bronchospasm with a single dose of budesonide/formoterol versus standard salbutamol therapy in patients with asthma.
In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study, 32 patients with asthma underwent a methacholine provocation test leading to a fall in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) of ≥30% at enrolment (Visit 1) and three subsequent study visits (Visits 2–4). Immediately after each provocation at Visits 2–4, patients received one of three test treatments: one inhalation of budesonide/formoterol 160/4.5 μg (via Turbuhaler®), two inhalations of salbutamol 100 μg (via a pressurised metered-dose inhaler [pMDI]) or placebo. All patients received each of the test treatments in a randomised order, after separate methacholine provocations. The effect of treatment on FEV1 and breathlessness (using the Borg scale) was measured at 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 minutes after test treatment.
Following methacholine provocation, Borg score increased from a baseline value of below 0.5 to 3.03, 3.31 and 3.50 before treatment with budesonide/formoterol, salbutamol and placebo, respectively. Budesonide/formoterol and salbutamol reversed methacholine-induced dyspnoea (breathlessness) rapidly. At 1 minute after inhalation, statistically significant decreases in Borg score were observed for budesonide/formoterol and salbutamol (p = 0.0233 and p < 0.0001, respectively, versus placebo), with similar rapid increases in FEV1 (both active treatments p < 0.0001 versus placebo). The median time to 50% recovery in Borg score after methacholine provocation was 3 minutes with budesonide/formoterol, 2 minutes with salbutamol and 10 minutes with placebo. All treatments and procedures were well tolerated.
Single doses of budesonide/formoterol and salbutamol both provided rapid relief of dyspnoea and reversal of severe airway obstruction in patients with asthma with experimentally induced bronchoconstriction. The perception of relief, as confirmed by objective lung function assessment, provides evidence that budesonide/formoterol can be used as reliever medication in asthma.
To study the effectiveness and safety of budesonide/formoterol (Symbicort®) Maintenance And Reliever Therapy (Symbicort SMART®, AstraZeneca, Södertalje, Sweden), a simplified management approach with one inhaler compared with conventional best practice (CBP) with multiple inhalers in patients with persistent asthma.
Open-label randomised controlled parallel group trial, 6-month treatment.
A total of 908 patients ≥ 12 years of age, with persistent asthma receiving treatment with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), either alone or in conjunction with long-acting β2-agonist.
Main outcome measures:
Time to first severe asthma exacerbation and number of severe asthma exacerbations.
No difference between groups was seen in time to first severe exacerbation (p = 0.75). Exacerbation rates were low in both groups. A total of 12 patients in the Symbicort SMART® group experienced a total of 14 severe asthma exacerbations, and 19 patients in the CBP group experienced a total of 25 severe asthma exacerbations (annual rate 0.07 vs. 0.13 p = 0.09). The mean daily dose of ICS expressed in BDP equivalent was significantly lower in the Symbicort SMART® group (including as-needed use) vs. in the CBP group (749 μg vs. 1059 μg; p < 0.0001). Mean scores in Asthma Control Questionnaire, 5 question version improved significantly in the SMART group compared with the CBP group (p = 0.0026). Symbicort SMART and CBP were equally well tolerated.
The mean drug cost/patient/month was significantly lower for the patients in the Symbicort SMART group compared with patients receiving CBP (51.3 € vs. 66.5 €; p < 0.0001).
In Belgian patients, a simplified regimen using budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy was at least as effective at improving clinical control compared with CBP with a significantly lower ICS dose and significantly lower drug costs.
Budesonide/formoterol used for both maintenance and reliever therapy has been shown to benefit patients with persistent asthma. We evaluated patient satisfaction and asthma control among Malaysian patients prescribed budesonide/formoterol as single maintenance and reliever therapy in a real-life clinical practice.
Adult patients diagnosed with partially controlled or uncontrolled asthma were recruited in a 6-month, prospective, open-label study involving ten hospital-based chest clinics in Malaysia. Patients were prescribed one or two inhalations of budesonide/formoterol Turbuhaler (160/4.5 μg per inhalation) twice daily as maintenance therapy and additional inhalation as reliever therapy. Maintenance doses were decided by physicians based on Global Initiative for Asthma-defined treatment objectives. The primary outcome measure was the change in mean Satisfaction with Asthma Treatment Questionnaire (SATQ) scores from baseline to an average of 3 months and 6 months. Secondary outcome was the change in mean Asthma Control Questionnaire 5-item version (ACQ-5) scores from baseline to an average of 3 months and 6 months and the proportion of patients achieving the minimum clinically important difference.
Of 201 eligible patients recruited, 195 completed the study. Overall, SATQ mean (standard deviation) score was significantly improved from 5.1 (0.76) at baseline to 5.5 (0.58) (P < 0.001). The increase was observed in all domains of SATQ and had occurred at 3 months for most patients. ACQ-5 mean (standard deviation) score was significantly reduced from 2.2 (1.13) at baseline to 1.2 (0.95) (P < 0.001). A total of 132 (67.7.1%) patients had achieved the minimal clinically important difference (≥0.5) of ACQ-5 scores at study end.
In a nationwide study, budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy achieved greater patient satisfaction and better asthma control compared with previous conventional asthma regimes among Malaysian patients treated in a real-life practice setting. Such an approach may represent an important treatment alternative for our local patients with persistent asthma.
asthma; asthma control; Malaysia; maintenance and reliever therapy; satisfaction; Symbicort; budesonide/formoterol
Traditionally inhaled treatment for asthma has been considered as preventer and reliever therapy. The combination of formoterol and budesonide in a single inhaler introduces the possibility of using a single inhaler for both prevention and relief of symptoms (single inhaler therapy).
The aim of this review is to compare formoterol and corticosteroid in single inhaler for maintenance and relief of symptoms with inhaled corticosteroids for maintenance and a separate reliever inhaler.
We last searched the Cochrane Airways Group trials register in September 2008.
Randomised controlled trials in adults and children with chronic asthma.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently assessed studies for inclusion and extracted the characteristics and results of each study. Authors or manufacturers were asked to supply unpublished data in relation to primary outcomes.
Five studies on 5,378 adults compared single inhaler therapy with current best practice, and did not show a significant reduction in participants with exacerbations causing hospitalisation (Peto OR 0.59; 95% CI 0.24 to 1.45) or treated with oral steroids (OR 0.83; 95% CI 0.66 to 1.03). Three of these studies on 4281 adults did not show a significant reduction in time to first severe exacerbation needing medical intervention (HR 0.96; 95% CI 0.85 to 1.07). These trials demonstrated a reduction in the mean total daily dose of inhaled corticosteroids with single inhaler therapy (mean reduction ranged from 107 to 267 micrograms/day, but the trial results were not combined due to heterogeneity). The full results from four further studies on 4,600 adults comparing single inhaler therapy with current best practice are awaited.
Three studies including 4,209 adults compared single inhaler therapy with higher dose budesonide maintenance and terbutaline for symptom relief. No significant reduction was found with single inhaler therapy in the risk of patients suffering an asthma exacerbation leading to hospitalisation (Peto OR 0.56; 95% CI 0.28 to 1.09), but fewer patients on single inhaler therapy needed a course of oral corticosteroids (OR 0.54; 95% CI 0.45 to 0.64). These results translate into an eleven month number needed to treat of 14 (95% CI 12 to 18), to prevent one patient being treated with oral corticosteroids for an exacerbation. The run-in for these studies involved withdrawal of long-acting beta2-agonists, and patients were recruited who were symptomatic during run-in.
One study included children (N = 224), in which single inhaler therapy was compared to higher dose budesonide. There was a significant reduction in participants who needed an increase in their inhaled steroids with single inhaler therapy, but there were only two hospitalisations for asthma and no separate data on courses of oral corticosteroids. Less inhaled and oral corticosteroids were used in the single inhaler therapy group and the annual height gain was also 1 cm greater in the single inhaler therapy group, [95% CI 0.3 to 1.7 cm].
There was no significant difference found in fatal or non-fatal serious adverse events for any of the comparisons.
Single inhaler therapy can reduce the risk of asthma exacerbations needing oral corticosteroids in comparison with fixed dose maintenance inhaled corticosteroids. Guidelines and common best practice suggest the addition of regular long-acting beta2-agonist to inhaled corticosteroids for uncontrolled asthma, and single inhaler therapy has not been demonstrated to significantly reduce exacerbations in comparison with current best practice, although results of five large trials are awaiting full publication. Single inhaler therapy is not currently licensed for children under 18 years of age in the United Kingdom.
Administration; Inhalation; AdrenalCortexHormones [*administration & dosage]; Anti-Asthmatic Agents [*administration & dosage]; Asthma [*drug therapy]; Bronchodilator Agents [administration & dosage]; Budesonide [*administration & dosage]; Chronic Disease; Drug Therapy; Combination; Ethanolamines [*administration & dosage]; Terbutaline [administration & dosage]; Adult; Child; Humans
In the recent years, considerable insight has been gained in to the optimal management of adult asthma. Most adult patients with asthma have mild intermittent and persistent disease, and it is acknowledged that many patients do not reach full control of all symptoms and signs of asthma. Those with mild persistent asthma are usually not well controlled without inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). Studies have provided firm evidence that these patients can be well controlled when receiving ICS, especially when disease is of recent onset. This treatment should be given on a daily basis at a low dose and when providing a good response should be maintained to prevent severe exacerbations and disease deterioration. Intermittent ICS treatment at the time of an exacerbation has also been suggested as a strategy for mild persistent asthma, but it is less effective than low-dose regular treatment for most outcomes. Adding a long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) to ICS appears to be unnecessary in most of these patients for optimising control of their asthma. Patients with moderate persistent asthma can be regarded as those who are not ideally controlled on low-dose ICS alone. The combination of an ICS and LABA is preferred in these patients, irrespective of the brand of medicine, and this combination is better than doubling or even quadrupling the dose of ICS to achieve better asthma control and reduce exacerbation risks. An ICS/LABA combination in a single inhaler represents a safe, effective and convenient treatment option for the management of patients with asthma unstable on inhaled steroids alone. Ideally, once asthma is under full control, the dose of inhaled steroids should be reduced, which is possible in many patients. The duration of treatment before initiating this dose reduction has, however, not been fully established. One of the combinations available to treat asthma (budesonide and formoterol) has also been assessed as both maintenance and rescue therapy with a further reduction in the risk for a severe exacerbation. Clinical effectiveness in the real world now has to be established, since this approach likely improves compliance with regular maintenance therapy.
Asthma; Beta-2-agonist; Inhaled corticosteroids; Hyperresponsiveness
To compare the cost-effectiveness of budesonide-formoterol in a single inhaler used as both maintenance and reliever medication versus clinician-directed titration of salmeterol-fluticasone as maintenance medication, plus salbutamol taken as needed, in controlling asthma in adults and adolescents.
A Canadian economic evaluation was conducted based on the results of a large (n=2143), open-label, randomized, controlled effectiveness trial in which health resource use was prospectively collected. The primary outcome measurement was the time to the first severe exacerbation. Costs included direct medical costs (physician and emergency room visits, hospitalizations, asthma drug costs, etc) and productivity (absenteeism). The time horizon was one year, which corresponded to the duration of the clinical trial. Prices were obtained from 2005 Canadian sources. Both health care and societal perspectives were considered, and deterministic univariate sensitivity analyses were conducted.
In the clinical trial, budesonide-formoterol as maintenance and reliever treatment was superior to salmeterol-fluticasone with respect to the time to the first severe exacerbation, overall rate of exacerbations and use of as-needed reliever medication. The annualized rate of severe exacerbations was 0.24 events/patient in the budesonide-formoterol arm and 0.31 events/patient in the salmeterol-fluticasone arm (P=0.0025). From a health care perspective, the mean cost per patient-year was $1,315 in the budesonide-formoterol arm versus $1,541 in the salmeterol-fluticasone arm. From a societal perspective, the mean cost per patient-year was $1,538 in the budesonide-formoterol arm and $1,854 in the salmeterol-fluticasone arm. Budesonide-formoterol was dominant (more effective and less expensive) in the base case analysis from both perspectives. The results were robust under sensitivity testing.
The strategy that allows budesonide-formoterol to be used in a single inhaler as both maintenance and reliever medication proved to be more effective and less expensive than a strategy of clinician-directed titration of salmeterol-fluticasone with salbutamol as reliever therapy.
Asthma; Budesonide-formoterol; Comparison; Economic evaluation; Salmeterol-fluticasone
Although patients have more problems using metered dose inhalers, clinical comparisons suggest they provide similar control to dry powder inhalers. Using real-life situations this study was designed to evaluate asthma control in outpatients with moderate to severe persistent asthma and to compare efficacy of fixed combinations of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) and long acting beta-agonists (LABA).
This real-life study had a cross-sectional design. Patients using fixed combinations of ICS and LABA had their asthma control and spirometry assessed during regular visits.
111 patients were analyzed: 53 (47.7%) received maintenance therapy of extrafine beclomethasone-formoterol (BDP/F) pressurized metered dose inhaler (pMDI), 25 (22.5%) fluticasone-salmeterol (FP/S) dry powder inhaler (DPI), and 33 (29.7%) budesonide-formoterol (BUD/F) DPI. Severity of asthma at time of diagnosis, assessed by the treating physician, was comparable among groups. Asthma control was achieved by 45.9% of patients; 38.7% were partially controlled and 15.3% were uncontrolled. In the extrafine BDF/F group, asthma control total score, daytime symptom score and rescue medication use score were significantly better than those using fixed DPI combinations (5.8 ± 6.2 vs. 8.5 ± 6.8; 1.4 ± 1.8 vs. 2.3 ± 2.1; 1.8 ± 2.2 vs. 2.6 ± 2.2; p = 0.0160; p = 0.012 and p = 0.025, respectively) and the mean daily ICS dose were significantly lower.
pMDI extrafine BDP/F combination demonstrated better asthma control compared to DPIs formulated with larger particles. This could be due to the improved lung deposition of the dose or less reliance on the optimal inhalation technique or both.
inhaler; fixed combinations; asthma control; extrafine
Recent asthma recommendations advocate the use of long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs) in uncontrolled asthma, but also stress the importance of stepping down this therapy once asthma control has been achieved. The objective of this study was to evaluate downtitration of LABA therapy in pediatric patients who are well-controlled on combination-inhaled corticosteroid (ICS)/LABA therapy. Clinical and physiologic outcomes were studied in children with moderate-to-severe persistent asthma after switching from combination (ICS/LABA) to monotherapy with ICS. Of the 54 patients, 34 (63%) were determined to have stable asthma after the switch, with a mean followup of 10.7 weeks. Twenty (37%) had loss of asthma control leading to addition of leukotriene receptor antagonists, increased ICS, or restarting LABA. There were 2 exacerbations requiring treatment with systemic steroids. In patients with loss of control, there was a statistically significant decline in FEV1 (−8% versus −1.9%, P = 0.03) and asthma control test (−3.2 versus −0.5, P = 0.03). This did not approach significance for FEF25-75%, exhaled nitric oxide, lung volumes or airway reactivity. No demographic, asthma control measures, or lung function variables predicted loss of control. Pediatric patients with moderate-to-severe persistent asthma who discontinue LABA therapy have a 37% chance of losing asthma control resulting in augmented maintenance therapies. Recent recommendations of discontinuing LABA therapy as soon as control is achieved should be evaluated in a prospective long-term study.
Formoterol is a long-acting beta2-agonist but because it has a fast onset of action it can also be used as a relief medication.
To asses the efficacy and safety of formoterol as reliever therapy in comparison to short-acting beta2-agonists in adults and children with asthma.
We searched the Cochrane Airways Group Specialised Register and websites of clinical trial registers (for unpublished trial data), and we checked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) submissions in relation to formoterol. The date of the most recent search was February 2010.
Randomised, parallel-arm trials of at least 12 weeks duration in patients of any age and severity of asthma. Studies randomised patients to any dose of as-needed formoterol versus short-acting beta2-agonist. Concomitant use of inhaled corticosteroids or other maintenance medication was allowed, as long as this was not part of the randomised treatment regimen.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors independently selected trials for inclusion in the review. Outcome data were extracted by one author and checked by the second author. We sought unpublished data on primary outcomes.
This review includes eight studies conducted in 22,604 participants (mostly adults). Six studies compared formoterol as-needed to terbutaline whilst two studies compared formoterol with salbutamol as-needed. Background maintenance therapy varied across the trials. Asthma exacerbations and serious adverse events showed a direction of treatment effect favouring formoterol, of which one outcome reached statistical significance (exacerbations requiring a course of oral corticosteroids). In patients on short-acting beta2-agonists, 117 people out of 1000 had exacerbations requiring oral corticosteroids over 30 weeks, compared to 101 (95% CI 93 to 108) out of 1000 for patients on formoterol as-needed. In patients on maintenance inhaled corticosteroids there were also significantly fewer exacerbations requiring a course of oral corticosteroids on formoterol as-needed (Peto OR 0.75; 95% CI 0.62 to 0.91). There was one death per 1000 people on formoterol or on short-acting beta2-agonists.
In adults, formoterol was similar to short-acting beta2-agonists when used as a reliever, and showed a reduction in the number of exacerbations requiring a course of oral corticosteroids. Clinicians should weigh the relatively modest benefits of formoterol as-needed against the benefits of single inhaler therapy and the potential danger of long-term use of long-acting beta2-agonists in some patients. We did not find evidence to recommend changes to guidelines that suggest that long-acting beta2-agonists should be given only to patients already taking inhaled corticosteroids.
There was insufficient information reported from children in the included trials to come to any conclusion on the safety or efficacy of formoterol as relief medication for children with asthma.
The budesonide/formoterol combination is successfully used for fast relief of asthma symptoms in addition to its use as maintenance therapy. The temporarily increased corticosteroid dose during increasing inhaler use for symptom relief is likely to suppress any temporary increase in airway inflammation and may mitigate or prevent asthma exacerbations. The relative contribution of the budesonide and formoterol components to the improved asthma control is unclear.
The acute protective effect of inhaled budesonide was tested in a model of temporarily increased airway inflammation with repeated indirect airway challenges, mimicking an acute asthma exacerbation. A randomised, double-blind, cross-over study design was used. Asthmatic patients (n = 17, mean FEV1 95% of predicted) who previously demonstrated a ≥30% fall in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) after inhaling adenosine 5'-monophosphate (AMP), were challenged on four consecutive test days, with the same dose of AMP (at 09:00, 12:00 and 16:00 hours). Within 1 minute of the maximal AMP-induced bronchoconstriction at 09:00 hours, the patients inhaled one dose of either budesonide/formoterol (160/4.5 μg), formoterol (4.5 μg), salbutamol (2 × 100 μg) or placebo. The protective effects of the randomised treatments were assessed by serial lung function measurements over the test day.
In the AMP provocations at 3 and 7 hours after inhalation, the budesonide/formoterol combination provided a greater protective effect against AMP-induced bronchoconstriction compared with formoterol alone, salbutamol and placebo. In addition all three active treatments significantly increased FEV1 within 3 minutes of administration, at a time when inhaled AMP had induced the 30% fall in FEV1.
A single dose of budesonide/formoterol provided a greater protective effect against inhaled AMP-induced bronchoconstriction than formoterol alone, both at 3 and at 7 hours after inhalation. The acute protection against subsequent bronchoconstrictor stimuli such as inhaled AMP and the rapid reversal of airway obstruction supports the use of budesonide/formoterol for both relief and prevention in the treatment of asthma.
ClinicalTrials.gov number NCT00272753
This randomised, double-blind, 6-month study compared budesonide/formoterol for maintenance and relief with salmeterol/fluticasone and a fixed maintenance dose of budesonide/formoterol, both with terbutaline for relief. Following a 2-week run-in, 3335 symptomatic adults and adolescents (mean FEV1 73% predicted, mean inhaled corticosteroid dose 745 μg/day) received budesonide/formoterol 160/4.5 μg one inhalation bid plus additional inhalations as needed, salmeterol/fluticasone 25/125 μg two inhalations bid plus as-needed terbutaline or budesonide/formoterol 320/9 μg one inhalation bid plus as-needed terbutaline. Budesonide/formoterol for maintenance and relief prolonged the time to first severe exacerbation requiring hospitalisation, emergency room treatment or oral steroids (primary variable) vs. fixed-dose salmeterol/fluticasone and budesonide/formoterol (p = 0.0034 and p = 0.023 respectively; log-rank test). Exacerbation rates were 19, 16 and 12 events/100 patients/6 months for salmeterol/fluticasone, fixed-dose budesonide/formoterol and budesonide/formoterol for maintenance and relief, respectively, [rate reduction vs. fixed-dose salmeterol/fluticasone (0.61; 95% CI 0.49–0.76, p < 0.001) and vs. fixed-dose budesonide/formoterol (0.72; 95% CI 0.57–0.90, p = 0.0048)]. Budesonide/formoterol maintenance and relief patients used less inhaled corticosteroid vs. salmeterol/fluticasone and fixed-dose budesonide/formoterol patients. All treatments provided similar marked improvements in lung function, asthma control days and asthma-related quality of life. Budesonide/formoterol for maintenance and relief reduces asthma exacerbations and maintains similar daily asthma control at a lower overall drug load compared with fixed-dose salmeterol/fluticasone and budesonide/formoterol.
Background Previous studies have shown disparities between Black and Hispanic patients compared with other populations in response to asthma medications.
Objective: The aim of this analysis was to assess the effect of budesonide/formoterol pressurized metered-dose inhaler (BUD/FM pMDI) and BUD on predefined criteria for asthma worsening, an asthma control metric generally aligned with definitions of moderate asthma exacerbations, across four different populations.
Methods: Data were from four 12-week, randomized, double-blind,US studies of BUD/FM pMDI treatment in patients aged 12 years or older with varying asthma severities and of varying races. Predefined asthma events and withdrawals due to predefined events were assessed as secondary study endpoints. Study I (NCT00651651) includes data from predominantly White patients with mild to moderate asthma who were randomized to BUD/FM pMDI 160/9 μg twice daily (bid; n = 123) or BUDpMDI 160 μg bid (n = 121). Study II (NCT00652002) includes data from predominantly White patients withmoderate to severe asthma who were randomized to BUD/FM pMDI 320/9 μg bid (n = 124) or BUD pMDI 320 μg bid (n = 109). Study III (NCT00702325) included self-reported Black patients with moderate to severe asthma who were randomized to BUD/FM pMDI 320/9 μg bid (n = 153) or BUD dry powder inhaler 360 μg bid (n = 148). Study IV (NCT00419757) included self-reported Hispanic patients with moderate to severe asthma who were randomized to BUD/FM pMDI 320/9 μg bid (n = 127) or BUD pMDI 320 μg bid (n = 123). Patients were to be withdrawn from the studies if they developed an asthma event, as determined by predefined criteria, except for night-time awakenings, where withdrawal was left to the study physician’s judgment.
Results: Overall, fewer patients in the studies (study I, II, III, and IV, respectively) experienced ≧1 asthma event in the BUD/FM group (18.7%, 29.8%, 37.3%, 25.2%) versus the BUD group (21.5%, 44.0%, 45.3%, 31.7%); only study II results showed a statistically significant difference between treatments. Fewer patients with moderate to severe asthma (studies II, III, and IV) were withdrawn due to ≧1 asthma event in the BUD/FM group (10.5%, 11.8%, 3.1%, respectively) than in the BUD group (20.2%, 18.9%, 6.5%, respectively); however, percentages were similar in the BUD/FM (7.3%) and BUD (6.6%) groups in patients with mild to moderate asthma (study I).
Conclusions: Predefined asthma event rates were numerically or significantly lower for patients with asthma receiving BUD/FMpMDI versusBUD, regardless of race or disease severity. Differences between the BUD/FM pMDI and BUD groupswere smaller in patients with mild to moderate asthma than in those with moderate to severe asthma, most likely because patients with milder disease had lower asthma event rates. Overall, these findings support the efficacy of BUD/FM pMDI in achieving asthma control in patients with moderate to severe asthma.
For children who have uncontrolled asthma despite the use of low-dose inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), evidence to guide step-up therapy is lacking.
We randomly assigned 182 children (6 to 17 years of age), who had uncontrolled asthma while receiving 100 µg of fluticasone twice daily, to receive each of three blinded step-up therapies in random order for 16 weeks: 250 µg of fluticasone twice daily (ICS step-up), 100 µg of fluticasone plus 50 µg of a long-acting beta-agonist twice daily (LABA step-up), or 100 µg of fluticasone twice daily plus 5 or 10 mg of a leukotriene-receptor antagonist daily (LTRA step-up). We used a triple-crossover design and a composite of three outcomes (exacerbations, asthma-control days, and the forced expiratory volume in 1 second) to determine whether the frequency of a differential response to the step-up regimens was more than 25%.
A differential response occurred in 161 of 165 patients who were evaluated (P<0.001). The response to LABA step-up therapy was most likely to be the best response, as compared with responses to LTRA step-up (relative probability, 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1 to 2.3; P = 0.004) and ICS step-up (relative probability, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.2 to 2.4; P = 0.002). Higher scores on the Asthma Control Test before randomization (indicating better control at baseline) predicted a better response to LABA step-up (P = 0.009). White race predicted a better response to LABA step-up, whereas black patients were least likely to have a best response to LTRA step-up (P = 0.005).
Nearly all the children had a differential response to each step-up therapy. LABA step-up was significantly more likely to provide the best response than either ICS or LTRA step-up. However, many children had a best response to ICS or LTRA step-up therapy, highlighting the need to regularly monitor and appropriately adjust each child’s asthma therapy. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00395304.)
In mild asthma exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) is usually treated with inhaled short-acting β2 agonists (SABAs) on demand.
The hypothesis was that a combination of budesonide and formoterol on demand diminishes EIB equally to regular inhalation of budesonide and is more effective than terbutaline inhaled on demand.
Sixty-six patients with asthma (>12 years of age) with verified EIB were randomised to terbutaline (0.5 mg) on demand, regular budesonide (400 μg) and terbutaline (0.5 mg) on demand, or a combination of budesonide (200 μg) + formoterol (6 μg) on demand in a 6-week, double-blind, parallel-group study (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00989833). The patients were instructed to perform three to four working sessions per week. The main outcome was EIB 24 h after the last dosing of study medication.
After 6 weeks of treatment with regular budesonide or budesonide+formoterol on demand the maximum post-exercise forced expiratory volume in 1 s fall, 24 h after the last medication, was 6.6% (mean; 95% CI −10.3 to −3.0) and 5.4% (−8.9 to −1.8) smaller, respectively. This effect was superior to inhalation of terbutaline on demand (+1.5%; −2.1 to +5.1). The total budesonide dose was approximately 2.5 times lower in the budesonide+formoterol group than in the regular budesonide group. The need for extra medication was similar in the three groups.
The combination of budesonide and formoterol on demand improves asthma control by reducing EIB in the same order of magnitude as regular budesonide treatment despite a substantially lower total steroid dose. Both these treatments were superior to terbutaline on demand, which did not alter the bronchial response to exercise. The results question the recommendation of prescribing SABAs as the only treatment for EIB in mild asthma.
Long-acting β2 agonists (LABA) may mask ongoing bronchial inflammation, leaving asthmatic patients at greater risk of severe complications. The aim of this study was to compare the effect of combination therapy using low-dose inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) plus LABA on airway inflammation in asthma to the effect of medium-dose ICS alone.
Twenty-four patients with asthma not controlled by low-dose (400 µg per day) budesonide alone were enrolled in this prospective crossover study. Patients were randomized into 2 treatment phases: one receiving medium-dose (800 µg per day) budesonide (ICS phase), and the other receiving a combination therapy of low-dose budesonide/formoterol (360 µg/9 µg per day) delivered by a single inhaler (LABA phase). Each treatment phase lasted for 6 week, after which patients were crossed over. Asthma symptoms, lung function, and airway inflammation were compared between the 2 phases.
Twenty-three patients completed the study; adequate sputum samples were collected from 17 patients. Asthma symptoms and lung function remained similar between the 2 phases. However, the mean sputum eosinophil percentage was higher in the LABA phase than in the ICS phase (5.07±3.82% vs. 1.02±1.70%; P<0.01). Sputum eosinophilia (≥3%) was more frequently observed in the LABA phase than in the ICS phase (six vs. two).
Addition of LABA may mask airway eosinophilic inflammation in asthmatic patients whose symptoms are not controlled with low-dose ICS.
Airway; inflammation; asthma; corticosteroids; beta2-agonists
Symptom control in patients with moderate to severe persistent asthma is essential to reduce the significant morbidity associated with the disease. Poor adherence to controller medications has been identified as a major contributing factor to the high level of uncontrolled asthma. This review examines patient perspectives on, and preferences for, controller medications (inhaled corticosteroid and long-acting β2-agonist combinations [ICS/LABA]), and how this may affect adherence to therapy. Fluticasone/salmeterol and budesonide/formoterol, the currently available ICS/LABA combination products, have similar efficacy and tolerability based on a recent meta-analysis of asthma trials. Adherence is higher with the combination ICS/LABAs than when the components are administered separately. Investigations into patient preferences for desirable attributes of asthma medications indicate that an effective reliever with a fast onset and long duration of action is preferred and may lead to improved adherence. This rapid onset of effect was perceived and highly valued in patient surveys, and was associated with greater patient satisfaction. Thus, future research should be directed at therapy that offers both anti-inflammatory activity and a rapid onset of bronchodilator effect. To further improve patient adherence and treatment outcome, the effect of these characteristics as well as other factors on adherence should also be investigated.
budesonide/formoterol; fluticasone/salmeterol; adherence; onset of effect; patient satisfaction
Conventionally, a nebulized short-acting β-2 agonist like salbutamol is often used as the reliever in acute exacerbations of asthma. However, recent worldwide respiratory outbreaks discourage routine use of nebulization. Previous studies have shown that combined budesonide/formoterol (Symbicort®, AstraZeneca) is effective as both a maintenance and reliever anti-asthmatic medication.
We performed a randomized, open-label study from March until August 2011 to compare the bronchodilatory effects of Symbicort® vs. nebulized salbutamol in acute exacerbation of mild to moderate asthmatic attack in an emergency department. Initial objective parameters measured include the oxygen saturation, peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) and respiratory rate. During clinical reassessment, subjective parameters [i.e., Visual Analog Scale (VAS) and 5-point Likert scale of breathlessness] and the second reading of the objective parameters were measured. For the 5-point Likert scale, the patients were asked to describe their symptom relief as 1, much worse; 2, a little worse; 3, no change; 4, a little better; 5, much better.
Out of the total of 32 patients enrolled, 17 patients (53%) were randomized to receive nebulized salbutamol and 15 (47%) to receive Symbicort®. For both treatment arms, by using paired t- and Wilcoxon signed rank tests, it was shown that there were statistically significant improvements in oxygen saturation, PEFR and respiratory rate within the individual treatment groups (pre- vs. post-treatment). Comparing the effects of Symbicort® vs. nebulized salbutamol, the average improvement of oxygen saturation was 1% in both treatment arms (p = 0.464), PEFR 78.67 l/min vs. 89.41 l/min, respectively (p = 0.507), and respiratory rate 2/min vs. 2/min (p = 0.890). For subjective evaluation, all patients reported improvement in the VAS (average 2.45 cm vs. 2.20 cm), respectively (p = 0.765). All patients in both treatment arms reported either "a little better" or "much better" on the 5-point Likert scale, with none reporting "no change" or getting worse.
This study suggests that there is no statistical difference between using Symbicort® vs. nebulized salbutamol as the reliever for the first 15 min post-intervention.
Improving patients' health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is recognized as a fundamental part of asthma management. The aims of this study were to evaluate the long-term efficacy (including symptom-free days and exacerbations) and impact on HRQoL of a stable-dose regimen of salmeterol/fluticasone propionate (SAL/FP) and an adjustable maintenance dosing (AMD) regimen of formoterol/budesonide (FOR/BUD) where treatment is adjusted based on symptoms [SAM40056].
A total of 688 outpatients with asthma receiving regular low-dose inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) plus a long-acting β2-agonist, or medium dose ICS alone participated in this randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, parallel-group, 1-year trial, which was conducted in 91 centers in 15 countries. Patients were randomized to receive 1 inhalation of SAL/FP 50/250 μg BID or 2 inhalations of FOR/BUD 6/200 μg BID during Weeks 1–4. For Weeks 5–52, patients meeting strict continuation criteria for stable asthma at Week 4 received AMD with FOR/BUD or stable-dose SAL/FP.
The percentage of symptom-free days was significantly greater (58.8% vs 52.1%; p = 0.034) and the annual exacerbation rate was significantly lower (47%; p = 0.008) with stable-dose SAL/FP compared with FOR/BUD AMD. A total of 568 patients completed the Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (AQLQ) at least once during the study. The mean change from baseline in AQLQ overall score was numerically greater with SAL/FP than FOR/BUD at week 28 and week 52, but did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.121 at Week 52). However, in a post hoc logistic regression analyses for any AQLQ improvement, significant benefits with SAL/FP were seen at both time points (p = 0.038 and p = 0.009, respectively). The minimally important difference of ≥ 0.5-point improvement in AQLQ overall score was achieved by a significantly greater number of patients receiving SAL/FP at Week 28 (68% vs 60%; p = 0.049); a trend for this difference remained at Week 52 (71% vs 65%) (p = 0.205).
In this population of patients with persistent asthma, stable-dose SAL/FP resulted in significantly greater increases in symptom-free days, a reduction in exacerbation rates, and provided greater HRQoL benefits compared with FOR/BUD AMD.
Clinical Trials registration number NCT00479739
Combination treatment of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) plus long-acting β2-agonist (LABA) is widely used as a maintenance regimen for the management of asthma. This study evaluated the effect of the β2-adrenergic receptor (ADRB2) polymorphism on lung function and asthma control with regular use of combination treatment of an inhaled ICS plus LABA.
Materials and Methods
43 Korean asthmatics who were symptomatic despite regular ICS use for at least 3 months were enrolled. For a 2-week run-in period, they received ICS (budesonide 800 µg/day) plus terbutaline (5 µg prn). as needed. During the 24-week active treatment period, they received budesonide 160 µg and formoterol 4.5 µg b.i.d. as maintenance and rescue medication. Pulmonary function and quality of life scores were monitored every 8 weeks; morning/evening peak expiratory flow meter (PEFR) was recorded daily. Patients were genotyped for ADRB2 Arg16Gly using single base extension methodology.
During the run-in period, there were no significant between-group differences in lung function; after 8 weeks of active treatment, Arg/Arg patients had significantly higher forced expiratory volume in 1 secord (FEV1) and maximal mid-expiratory flow (MMEF) (p = 0.023 and p = 0.021, respectively), and better asthma control and quality of life after 24 weeks (p = 0.016 and p = 0.028, respectively). During treatment, there was a greater improvement in morning/evening PEFR in Arg/Arg patients.
Asthmatic patients with the Arg/Arg genotype at codon 16 of ADRB2 achieve better asthma control with long-term regular use of combined budesonide and formoterol treatment, suggesting that the ADRB2 genotype may dictate choice of treatment strategy.
β2-adrenergic receptor polymorphism; long-acting β2-agonist; bronchodilating effect
This retrospective, observational cohort study aimed to compare treatment outcomes and healthcare costs in the year after initiation of maintenance treatment with budesonide/formoterol or salmeterol/fluticasone in a German healthcare setting.
Data on German asthma patients initiating treatment with budesonide/formoterol or salmeterol/fluticasone between June 2001 and June 2005 were obtained from the IMS Disease Analyzer database. The primary outcome was the probability of treatment success, defined according to short-acting β2-agonist prescriptions and switches or addition of controller medications, during the postindex year. A secondary definition of treatment success included hospitalisations and oral corticosteroid (OCS) prescriptions. Secondary outcomes included severe asthma exacerbations, defined as ≥1 OCS prescription, asthma-related hospitalisation and/or referral. The effect of treatment on costs was estimated using generalised linear models, adjusting for patient and physician characteristics.
There were no significant differences between the budesonide/formoterol (n=1456) and salmeterol/fluticasone (n=982) groups in disease severity markers in the pre-index year. Patients on budesonide/formoterol had a 44% greater probability of treatment success [odds ratio (OR): 1.44; p = 0.0003] according to the primary definition and a 26% greater probability (OR: 1.26; p = 0.0119) according to the secondary definition, fewer severe exacerbations (−33.4%; p = 0.0123) and fewer OCS prescriptions (−31.5%; p = 0.0082) compared with salmeterol/fluticasone, after controlling for baseline characteristics. Adjusting for covariates, budesonide/formoterol had a significant inverse relationship on asthma-related costs compared with salmeterol/fluticasone (−13.4%; p < 0.001). Total cost (asthma- and non-asthma-related costs) was 12.6% lower for budesonide/formoterol (p < 0.0001).
This study suggests that for patients with chronic asthma in Germany, budesonide/formoterol rather than salmeterol/fluticasone had a higher likelihood of treatment success, and that budesonide/formoterol is the less costly option. Although the cohorts appeared to be well matched at baseline, the results should be interpreted with caution given the observational nature of the study.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Indications for the use of long-acting β2-agonists (LABAs) and inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) in patients with COPD are described in the various international guidelines, but no special recommendations are made concerning the use of combination inhalers containing a LABA as well as an ICS. To determine the place of combination inhalers in the treatment of COPD we reviewed recent literature concerning this subject. On molecular level ICS/LABA combination therapy has anti-inflammatory properties which cannot be attributed to ICS alone. All clinical studies indicate that the two available combinations (salmeterol/fluticasone and formoterol/budesonide) significantly reduce exacerbation rate of moderate/severe exacerbations when compared with placebo. Some studies also showed a significant reduction in exacerbation rate compared with LABA monotherapy, but not compared with ICS monotherapy. From the patient’s perspective, ICS/LABA combination inhalers are the first choice when both need to be prescribed, possibly improving patient compliance for ICS. Currently little evidence is available to predict if flexible treatment with LABA/ICS combination inhalers will improve disease control in COPD. Further studies are needed to elucidate the clinical benefit of combination inhalers versus the individual components in different inhalers, and to investigate the clinical benefit of flexible dosing of combination inhalers in patients with COPD.
COPD; long-acting β2-agonists; inhaled corticosteroids