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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

More on the LABA controversy-a thoughtful analysis from an allergist's perspective

Dr. Stuart Henochowicz, an allergist-internist blogger,recently posted some cogent comments about the use of LABAs in asthma including comments regarding the combo inhalers ( steroids and a LABA).

Asthma patients are often treated by allergists or pulmonary docs or sometimes both and as a pulmonary physician I welcome his thoughts regarding the recent flare up of the concern about the safety of the long acting beta-agonists (LABAs). This exacerbation of concern was triggered mainly by the publication of the poorly done SMART trial and what I believe to be a flawed and overblown meta-analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine by Salpeter.

Some of his key points are:
LABAs should not be used in asthma without inhaled steroid coverage.
The combo inhalers are very helpful in asthma treatment.
There are data supporting the value of those combination products.

I believe his comments reflect what I sense to be a consensus among physicians who treat asthma on a regular basis, allergists and pulmonary docs. I continue to have concerns that the annals' meta-analysis might cause asthma patients to discontinue their long acting beta agonist-steroid combination inhalers with resultant exacerbation of their asthma.In fact, some medical bloggers have commented that has already happened.

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