[Budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy. A new treatment approach for adult patients with asthma]

Stephanie Korn, Claus Vogelmeier, Roland Buhl
Medizinische Klinik 2008 May 15, 103 (5): 299-310

BACKGROUND: An inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) or an ICS/long-acting beta(2)-agonist (LABA) combination plus short-acting beta(2)-agonist (SABA) as needed for symptom relief is recommended for persistent asthma. Additionally, budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy (Symbicort) SMART, AstraZeneca, Sweden) has been approved for adults in the European Union. This option is well tolerated and offers greater reductions in asthma exacerbations together with similar improvements in daily symptom control, at a lower overall steroid load, compared with fixed-dose ICS/LABA plus SABA.

METHODS: Two large clinical trials investigated the use of budesonide/formoterol as maintenance and reliever compared with medium or high doses of an ICS/LABA combination as controller plus SABA as reliever in adults (aged >or= 18 years). COMPASS was a 6-month, double-blind, randomized trial, while COSMOS was a 1-year, dose titration study which reflected routine clinical practice.

RESULTS: Among adults, the studies confirmed a 21-39% reduction in severe exacerbations in patients treated with budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy compared with titrated salmeterol/fluticasone plus SABA (COSMOS) or fixed higher budesonide/formoterol or salmeterol/fluticasone plus SABA (COMPASS), respectively. Similar levels of daily asthma control were achieved with budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy at a significantly lower overall steroid load compared with salmeterol/fluticasone or budesonide/formoterol plus SABA. Budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy was as well tolerated as combination therapies.

CONCLUSION: In adult patients, budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy is a safe and simplified approach to asthma management, using a single inhaler, which reduces severe exacerbations and maintains similar daily asthma control at a lower drug load compared with the traditional strategy of ICS/LABA plus SABA.

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