Effects of short- and long-acting beta-agonists on asthma exacerbations: a prospective cohort


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BACKGROUND: In asthma, short- and long-acting β-agonists (SABAs and LABAs) should be used together with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), and regular use is inappropriate.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the relationship between patterns of use of therapy and asthma exacerbations (AEx).

METHODS: Patients with asthma (6-40 years) were enrolled in France and the United Kingdom. Prescribing data, computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATIs), and text messages assessed medication use and AEx over a maximum period of 24 months. Generalized linear mixed models provided AEx risks associated with therapy.

RESULTS: Among the 908 patients (median age: 20.0 years, 46.6% women, 24.5% children) answering a total of 4248 CATIs over 486 (±235) days, regular (ie, daily) use was more frequent for single LABAs and fixed dose combinations (FDCs) than for single ICS (75.6%, 70.1%, and 65.4% of investigated periods of use, respectively). Regular (ie, daily or almost daily) SABA use was observed for 21.1% of periods of use. Altogether, 265 patients (29.2%) experienced 1 or more AEx. The ORs for AEx risk related to regular vs no use of FDCs, single ICS, and single LABAs were 0.98 (95% CI = [0.73-1.33]), 0.90 (95% CI = [0.61-1.33]), and 1.29 (95% CI = [0.76-2.17]), respectively, after adjustment for cotherapy, sociodemographic, and disease characteristics. The OR was 2.09 (95% CI = [1.36-3.21]) in regular SABA users.

CONCLUSION: Inhaled corticosteroids and FDCs were often used intermittently, whereas SABAs and LABAs could be used regularly, and exacerbations were frequent. Compared with non-users, the risk of exacerbation increased moderately under regular use of single LABAs, whereas it doubled, significantly, in regular SABA users, likely in relationship with poor overall asthma control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-260
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
Issue number3
Early online date17 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Sources: The study was funded by the European Commission through the Seventh Framework Program (FP7-Grant Agreement n° 282 593) and gathered 7 partners in a consortium: Claude Bernard Lyon 1 University, University of Nottingham, Kappa Santé SAS, IMS Health, University of Amsterdam, Consortio Mar Parc de Salut de Barcelona and Lyon Ingénierie Projets. The study has been registered in the European Network of Centres for Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacovigilance (ENCePP) Registry under reference number ENCEPP/SDPP/3099.


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