WEDNESDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- In a study that compared asthma pills against commonly prescribed inhaled steroids, British researchers found that the oral medications were as effective as the inhaled drugs.
The oral medications, known as leukotriene-receptor antagonists, "have shown similar efficacy and cost and better compliance, and should be considered for any patient, not as a last option but as an option for any patient," said study co-author Dr. Stanley Musgrove, a senior research associate at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.
"Every different patient will have their own issues that are important to their care: their compliance to different medications, how well they feel that different medications work for them, their concerns about different medications, any possible minor side effects, etcetera, and all of those should be considered when the clinician and the patient are making a decision about the best medication," he noted.
Results of the study are published in the May 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study was designed to be what the researchers call a "pragmatic" trial, which more closely mimics the way people use medications in real life as opposed to the strict rules of a clinical trial, according to Musgrove.
The researchers recruited 650 people with mild to moderate asthma. The study volunteers were between the ages of 12 and 80, and had inadequate asthma control or an impaired quality of life due to asthma symptoms.
Volunteers were randomly assigned to a group. One arm of the study compared leukotriene-receptor antagonists (Accolate and Singulair) to inhaled corticosteroids as a first-line treatment for asthma. The other arm of the study compared people who were already taking inhaled steroids who then added on either a long-acting rescue medication (known as a LABA) or leukotriene-receptor antagonis
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