Saturday, December 13, 2008

Breaking news on Long-Acting Bronchodilating Agents

I want to present the information before misinformation gets widely circulated. Yesterday, a joint meeting of 3 F.D.A. advisory panels voted to ban use of individual Long-Acting Bronchodilator Agents (LABAs: Serevent and Foradil) for the treatment of asthma, while two combination steroid + LABA inhalers (Advair and Symbicort) were allowed to continue to be sold.

This vote will have a very small effect on my practice. For background, I am a board certified allergist in private practice in Greenville/Spartanburg, SC. A high percentage of patients in my practice have asthma. Their asthma is controlled without the use of individual inhalers of LABAs almost always. As the decision was just announced, there probably has not been enough time for the news to percolate through the medical community and general public. Technically, my office has not fielded a single question so far. For those patients that I do prescribe individual inhalers of LABAs, I am very careful to define what they do, when they should be used, what they do not do, and to follow them closely. I would like for LABAs to continue to be sold individually because I think in this form can be effect and safe under very selected conditions. To this end, I propose a compromise, whereby these two medications are available only with the approval of asthma specialists (allergist and pulmonologists). This is the case for Xolair. Until then, I shall abide by the FDA's directives.

I found a good summary article. For a review of the data that led to this decision, type "LABA" in the search box. If you have questions, ask your doctor...

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