FDA warns of risk from certain asthma drugs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today warned against the use of certain asthma drugs without other medications because of concerns that so-called long-acting beta agonists could exacerbate patients' asthma and result in hospitalization or even death.

The FDA said long-acting beta agonists, or LABAs, “should never be used alone in the treatment of asthma in children or adults.”

Moreover the agency said, “when LABAs are needed, they be used for the shortest time possible to achieve asthma control.”

The FDA said it took the action based on its analysis of studies that showed use of the drugs such as Advair, Brovana, Foradil, Perforomist, Serevent, and Symbicort increased the risk of worsening asthma symptoms that could lead to hospitalization, and in some cases death.

LABAs relax the muscles of airways to allow easier breathing when taken using an inhaler or nebulizer.

“Although these medicines play an important role in helping some patients control asthma symptoms, our review of the available clinical trials determined that their use should be limited, whenever possible, due to an increased risk of serious asthma exacerbations and death,” says Badrul Chowdhury, M.D., director of FDA's Division of Pulmonary and Allergy Products.