A popular combination asthma therapy dogged by safety concerns has not harmed British Columbians and should remain in use.
This is according to researchers at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.
The therapy combines an inhaled corticosteroid to reduce swelling in the airways with "long-acting beta agonists" (LABAs) to ease breathing and reduce the risk of a severe asthma attack. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), reacting to claims that LABAs might mask conditions that leave patients vulnerable to more severe or even fatal asthma attacks, ordered the drugs' makers to conduct large-scale safety trials; with results not expected for five years, the FDA urges that LABAs be discontinued once a person's asthma is under control.
The UBC-Vancouver Coastal Health study examined hospitalization rates for patients who took inhaled corticosteroids alone and those who used the combination therapy, covering 46,000 people over 15 years. Although the hospitalization rate for combination therapy users was 14 per cent higher than those who took corticosteroids alone, that difference was not statistically significant.