Safety and efficacy of fluticasone and beclomethasone in moderate to severe asthma. Belgian Multicenter Study Group

R A Pauwels, J C Yernault, M G Demedts, P Geusens
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 1998, 157 (3 Pt 1): 827-32
There are still some concerns about the safety of high doses of inhaled glucocorticosteroids (ICS). We compared the safety and efficacy of fluticasone propionate (FP) and beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP) in 306 patients with moderate to severe asthma in a double-blind, multicenter, cross-over study of 12 mo duration. During the 1-mo run-in period, bronchodilators were replaced by salmeterol 50 microg twice daily, increasing morning peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) by 28 L/min (p < 0.001) and FEV1 by 6.2% predicted (p < 0.001). At randomization the current ICS was replaced by 500 microg BDP or 250 microg FP in accordance with previously taken 500 microg BDP or 400 microg budesonide (BUD). No significant differences between the two treatments regarding morning plasma cortisol, urinary excretion of calcium and hydroxyproline, FEV1, and PEFR were observed at any time point during the study. Osteocalcin and bone mineral density (BMD) were improved over baseline in the FP group, resulting in higher serum osteocalcin levels (mean difference 0.28 ng/ml; p < 0.001) and higher BMD in the spine (1.0%; p = 0.05), femoral neck (1.6; p < 0.01), and Ward's triangle (3.6%; p = 0.01) as compared with BDP. We conclude that chronic treatment with FP, at half the dose of BDP, results in a similar antiasthma effect but a more favorable safety profile with respect to bone metabolism and mineral density.

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