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Tuesday 01 November 2005

Comparison of racemic albuterol and levalbuterol in the treatment of acute asthma in the ED.

By: Schreck DM, Babin S.

Am J Emerg Med 2005 Nov;23(7):842-7

BACKGROUND: Acute asthma is often treated with racemic albuterol, a 1:1 mixture of (R)-albuterol and (S)-albuterol. Levalbuterol is the single-isomer agent comprised (R)-albuterol, an active bronchodilator, without any effects of (S)-albuterol. OBJECTIVE: To compare emergency department (ED) admission rates of patients presenting with acute asthma who were treated with either racemic albuterol or levalbuterol. SETTING: Suburban community teaching hospital. DESIGN: Retrospective observational case review. METHODS: Emergency department patients presenting with acute asthma at 2 different sites were reviewed over 9- and 3-month consecutive periods. Outcome measures included ED hospital admission rate, length of stay, arrival acuity, and treatment costs. Patients were excluded if younger than 1 year or if no treatment of acute asthma was rendered. RESULTS: Of the initial 736 consecutive cases, significantly fewer admissions (4.7% vs 15.1%, respectively; P = .0016) were observed in the levalbuterol vs racemic albuterol group. Of the subsequent 186 consecutive cases, significantly fewer admissions were also observed (13.8% vs 28.9%, respectively; P = .021) in the levalbuterol vs racemic albuterol group. Treatment costs were lower with levalbuterol mainly because of a decrease in hospital admissions. CONCLUSION: Levalbuterol treatment in the ED for patients with acute asthma resulted in higher patient discharge rates and may be a cost-effective alternative to racemic albuterol.

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