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Some Asthma Drugs Raise Risk of Complications, Especially in Kids: Study
Date:10/25/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- When used alone, the asthma medications known as long-acting beta-agonists are associated with an increased risk of serious complications, new research indicates.

What's more, the increased risk of complications, including hospitalization, intubation and death (called the asthma composite outcome), associated with the use of these medications was even higher in children than in adults.

However, when long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs) are used in combination with inhaled corticosteroids, the increased risk appears to dissipate.

Products that only contain a LABA are marketed under the brand names Foradil and Serevent in the United States, while they are sold under the brand names Symbicort and Advair when combined with inhaled corticosteroids.

"What we found overall was that there was a greater risk of the asthma composite outcome in the group that took LABAs as opposed to the group that didn't. And, the risk was higher in the younger asthmatic population," said study author Dr. Ann McMahon, associate director of science and director of KidNet in the Office of Pediatric Therapeutics at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"The other important thing is that in a smaller subgroup that took LABAs and inhaled corticosteroids [ICS], and took those consistently, we did not find that the risk was elevated. But, this subgroup was rather small, so the results regarding ICS are somewhat inconclusive. The agency is now pursuing doing a large randomized clinical trial in the context of LABAs and consistent ICS use," McMahon said.

Results from the current study are published in the November issue of Pediatrics.

The FDA first began looking into the safety of LABAs in 2005 when concerns about a possible increase in serious complications were first raised. In 2008, the first meta-analysis examining the safety of LABAs was cond
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