Long-Acting β-Agonist in Combination or Separate Inhaler as Step-Up Therapy for Children with Uncontrolled Asthma Receiving Inhaled Corticosteroids

Steve Turner* (Corresponding Author), Kathryn Richardson, Clare Murray, Mike Thomas, Elizabeth V Hillyer, Anne Burden, David B Price

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
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Adding a long-acting β2-agonist (LABA) to inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) using a fixed-dose combination (FDC) inhaler is the UK guideline recommendation for children aged more than 4 years with uncontrolled asthma. The evidence of benefit of adding an FDC inhaler over a separate LABA inhaler is limited.


The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of a LABA added as an FDC inhaler, and as a separate inhaler, in children with uncontrolled asthma.


Two UK primary care databases were used to create a matched cohort study with a 2-year follow-up period. We included children prescribed their first step-up from ICS monotherapy. Two cohorts were formed for children receiving an add-on LABA as an FDC inhaler, or a separate LABA inhaler. Matching variables and confounders were identified by comparing characteristics during a baseline year of follow-up. Outcomes were examined during the subsequent year. The primary outcome was an adjusted odds ratio for overall asthma control (defined as follows: no asthma-related hospital admission or emergency room visit, prescription for oral corticosteroids or antibiotic with evidence of respiratory consultation, and ≤2 puffs of short-acting β-agonist daily).


The final study consisted of 1330 children in each cohort (mean age 9 years; 59% male). In the separate ICS+LABA cohort, the odds of achieving overall asthma control were lower (adjusted odds ratio, 0.77 [95% confidence interval, 0.66-0.91]; P = .001) compared with the FDC cohort.


The study demonstrates a small but significant benefit in achieving asthma control from an add-on LABA as an FDC, compared with a separate inhaler and this supports current guideline recommendations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-106.e3
Number of pages8
JournalThe Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number1
Early online dateJul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

The authors thank Prof. Stanley Szefler for his comments on the paper and Lisa Law for help with editing. This study was funded by the Respiratory Effectiveness Group.


  • asthma
  • child
  • inhaled corticosteroid
  • long-acting b-agonist
  • step-up therapy


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