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Wednesday 01 December 1999

Rise and fall of asthma-related mortality in Italy and sales of beta2-agonists, 1980-1994.

By: Romano F, Recchia G, Staniscia T, Bonitatibus A, Villa M, Nicolosi A, De Carli G, Mannino S.

Eur J Epidemiol 2000;16(9):783-7

We performed this study with the aims of describing the trend of asthma-related mortality in Italy between 1980 and 1994, and to evaluate the relationship between sale estimates of beta2-agonists drugs and mortality from asthma. For asthma mortality we used data provided by National Institute of Statistics, for sale estimates of beta2-agonists we used data provided by IMS HEALTH. We calculated the gender specific age-standardized incidence rates of asthma-related deaths for all ages and for age classes. We found that estimates for asthma-related mortality steadily increased between 1980 and 1987 in both sexes, and thereafter decreased. In people, aged between 34 and 64 and over 64, death rates in males were significantly higher than in females while the rates in those aged less than 34, were mostly similar in both gender. The overall exposure to beta2-agonists (alone and in combination) increased from 1980 to 1990, remained stable between 1990 and 1993, and increased steeply in 1994. We conclude that asthma-related death rates have declined since the mid-1980's. This decline has been more pronounced in males and in the older ages, while the rates in younger patients of both genders have remained nearly unchanged. Our data do not substantiate the hypothesis of an increased risk of asthma-related mortality associated to the use of inhaled beta2-agonists in general nor fenoterol or salbutamol in particular.

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