According to the AAFA, around 25 million people in the U.S. have asthma, about one in every 13 people. This long-term disease causes swelling and inflammation of the airways, resulting in restriction and discomfort when breathing or even death in some severe cases. Currently, there is no cure for asthma, however, drugs can help loosen muscle passages and control symptoms, allowing people to live normal and healthy lives.
A novel approach to treating asthma
A new global clinical study has had a breakthrough, discovering a drug combination therapy that could dramatically improve the health of people living with asthma. Albuterol is one of these drugs and works by attaching tiny relaxant proteins – called beta receptors – in the airways. The other, budesonide, focuses on decreasing the airways’ swelling and irritation.
An international research team conducted its phase three clinical trials, including more than 3,000 asthma patients from over 295 sites across the U.S., Europe, and South America. This worldwide scope of the safety and efficacy of the drugs allowed for an understanding of how they would perform for many nationalities living in many different environments.
What were the results?
Using this combination approach, the patients not only successfully increased their lung function but suffered fewer attacks overall. The treatment was shown to decrease participants’ risk of an asthma attack by 27 percent in the short term and reduced asthma attacks by 24 percent annually.
The study found that a combination of two drugs administered through an asthma pump dramatically reduces the chances of suffering an asthma attack. “This represents a paradigm shift in the treatment of asthma. We see this combination treatment, which is the first of its kind, as becoming part of standard therapy,” said author Reynold Panettieri Jr., director of the Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine.
Decreasing the need for steroids
Alongside inhaler drug treatments, oral steroids are commonly administered by health practitioners to help deal with asthma symptoms. However, these have powerful adverse side effects so are being prescribed less. The researchers’ new drug treatment can also reduce the need for oral steroids by 33 percent.
“With this new inhaler that delivers more inhaled steroids every time patients take the rescue therapy, they’re getting more at a time when they’re having a flare-up and when they need it,” explained Panettieri. “We showed that, beyond decreasing their exacerbations, it decreased their need for oral steroids after a flare-up.”
Source study: The New England Journal of Medicine – Albuterol–Budesonide Fixed-Dose Combination Rescue Inhaler for Asthma