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Saturday 01 December 2001

Long-acting beta2-agonists: comparative pharmacology and clinical outcomes.

By: van der Woude HJ, Aalbers R.

Am J Respir Med 2002;1(1):55-74

Salmeterol and formoterol are both long-acting beta(2)-adrenoceptor agonists (beta(2)-agonists). They both provide excellent bronchodilating and bronchoprotective effects in patients with asthma but their are some differences between these two long-acting beta(2)-agonists in vitro and in vivo. Formoterol has a greater potency and intrinsic activity than salmeterol, which can become especially apparent at higher doses than that clinically recommended, and in contracted bronchi. Long-term use of long-acting beta(2)-agonists can induce tolerance, which can be partially reversed with corticosteroids. Long-acting beta(2)-agonists have some anti-inflammatory effects in vitro, but data in vivo are less convincing. Compared with doubling the dose of inhaled corticosteroids, the addition of inhaled long-acting beta(2)-agonists to inhaled corticosteroids improves symptom control in patients with asthma and reduces both the exacerbation rate of asthma and hospital admission rate. No enhanced airway responsiveness or loss of perception of dyspnea has been observed with the use of inhaled long-acting beta(2)-agonists. Monotherapy with long-acting beta(2)-agonists is not recommended.

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