Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Quick Hit For Asthmatics: A New Add on Drug?

In a new article published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, (full article here), adding the long acting anticholinergic drug, tiotropium, or Respimat, to poorly controlled asthmatics current treatment, significantly improved their symptoms.

People with asthma can have a tough go with simple daily activities, with triggers ranging from smoke, to pets, to pollens, to household dust. They can have trouble in the cold, with exercise, and anyone who has felt their breathing feel tight on occasion can sympathize with the sensation of this disease.

Respimat is a soft mist inhaler taken twice daily, and in this study of asthmatics between the ages of  18-75, their breathing was significantly improved.

Now, these individuals had severe asthma, that was poorly controlled, despite already using long acting steroid inhalers in addition to long acting beta agonists. They were also allowed to continue using short acting rescue medications if needed.

Results showed significant improvements in FEV1 (forced expiration volume in 1sec), or how strongly they could exhaled their air out, as well as preventing severe flare ups of their disease.

Side effects of the medications were similar to the placebo group.

Bottom Line: This is an interesting addition to the regimen of asthma medications, when control is difficult despite usual therapy.

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