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AstraZeneca Comments on FDA Joint Advisory Committee Meeting on Post-Marketing Safety Studies for the Use of LABAs in Asthma

WILMINGTON, Del., March 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- On March 10-11, 2010, the Joint Advisory Committees of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -- including the Pulmonary-Allergy Drugs and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committees -- discussed the design of post-marketing safety studies for long-acting beta-agonist (LABA)-containing products in the U.S., including SYMBICORT® (budesonide/formoterol fumarate dihydrate).

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"As we've witnessed over the past two days, there are many challenges in designing and executing a relevant, feasible and ethical post-marketing safety study that answers FDA's question regarding LABA-containing products," said Howard Hutchinson, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of AstraZeneca.  "AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) is confident in the positive benefit-risk profile of SYMBICORT in asthma as demonstrated by extensive clinical data and patient experience, and supports ongoing scientific discussion to address any outstanding questions regarding the use of combination LABA and inhaled corticosteroid products for the treatment of asthma.  We look forward to working with the FDA to execute a study design that is both scientifically robust and offers a pragmatic approach to answer critical questions regarding the appropriate use of LABAs." 

The FDA frequently convenes advisory committee meetings to obtain independent expert guidance and recommendations on clinical matters.  While the FDA is not required to follow this guidance, the agency usually takes the advice into consideration when rendering decisions on public health matters.


SYMBICORT is combination therapy indicated for the long-term maintenance treatment of asthma in patients 12 years of age and older. Administered twice daily, SYMBICORT is a combination of two proven respiratory medications -- budesonide, an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS), and formoterol, a rapid and long-acting beta2-agonist (LABA). It offers patients with asthma effective symptom control with the added benefit of rapid improvement in lung function within fifteen minutes of every dose.

SYMBICORT 160/4.5 mcg is also indicated for the maintenance treatment of airflow obstruction in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. For patients with COPD, the approved dosage of SYMBICORT is 160/4.5 mcg two inhalations twice daily. SYMBICORT does not replace fast-acting inhalers and should not be used to treat acute symptoms of COPD or asthma. SYMBICORT should not be initiated in patients during rapidly deteriorating or potentially life-threatening episodes of COPD.

For more information about SYMBICORT, please visit

Important Safety Information, including boxed WARNING

WARNING: Long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonists may increase the risk of asthma-related death. SYMBICORT should only be used for patients with asthma not adequately controlled on other asthma controller medications (e.g., low- to medium-dose inhaled corticosteroids) or whose disease severity clearly warrants initiation of treatment with two maintenance therapies. Data from a large placebo-controlled US study that compared the safety of another long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist (salmeterol) or placebo added to usual asthma therapy showed an increase in asthma-related deaths in patients receiving salmeterol. This finding with salmeterol may apply to formoterol (a long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist), one of the active ingredients in SYMBICORT (see WARNINGS in full Prescribing Information).

SYMBICORT is NOT a rescue medication and does NOT replace fast-acting inhalers to treat acute symptoms.

Particular care is needed for patients who are transferred from systemically active corticosteroids to inhaled corticosteroids. Deaths due to adrenal insufficiency have occurred in asthmatic patients during and after transfer from systemic corticosteroids to less systemically available inhaled corticosteroids.

Patients who are receiving SYMBICORT should not use additional formoterol or other long-acting inhaled beta2-agonists for any reason.

Caution should be exercised when considering the coadministration of SYMBICORT with long-term ketoconazole and other known potent CYP3A4 inhibitors.

Excessive beta-adrenergic stimulation has been associated with central nervous system and cardiovascular effects. SYMBICORT, like all products containing sympathomimetic amines, should be used with caution in patients with cardiovascular disorders, especially coronary insufficiency, cardiac arrhythmias, and hypertension.

Long-term use of orally inhaled corticosteroids, such as budesonide, a component of SYMBICORT, may affect normal bone metabolism resulting in a loss of bone mineral density.

Glaucoma, increased intraocular pressure, and cataracts have been reported following the inhaled administration of corticosteroids, including budesonide, a component of SYMBICORT.

SYMBICORT should be administered with caution to patients being treated with MAO inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants, or within 2 weeks of discontinuation of such agents.

Additional Information Specific to Asthma

The most common adverse events greater than or equal to 5% reported in clinical trials included nasopharyngitis, headache, upper respiratory tract infection, pharyngolaryngeal pain, sinusitis, and stomach discomfort.

Additional Information Specific to COPD

For patients with COPD, the approved dosage of SYMBICORT is 160/4.5 mcg, 2 inhalations twice daily.

The most common adverse events greater than or equal to 3% reported in COPD clinical trials included nasopharyngitis, oral candidiasis, bronchitis, sinusitis, and upper respiratory tract infection.

Lower respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia, have been reported following the inhaled administration of corticosteroids.

In 2 placebo-controlled SYMBICORT COPD clinical studies, pneumonia did not occur with greater incidence in the SYMBICORT 160/4.5 group, compared with placebo, while the incidence of lung infections other than pneumonia (e.g., bronchitis) was higher for SYMBICORT than placebo.

Please see full Prescribing Information, including boxed WARNING, and visit

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is engaged in the research, development, manufacturing and marketing of meaningful prescription medicines and in the supply of healthcare services. AstraZeneca is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies with global healthcare sales of $31.6 billion and is a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infectious disease medicines.  In the United States, AstraZeneca is a $13.5 billion dollar healthcare business.  

For more information about AstraZeneca in the US or our AZ&Me™ Prescription Savings programs, please visit:

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