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Saturday 01 December 2001

The long and short of beta2-agonists.

By: Lotvall J.

Pulm Pharmacol Ther 2002;15(6):497-501

For patients whose asthma is not adequately controlled with inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) therapy alone, increasing the dose of ICS or the addition of a long-acting beta(2)-agonist is recommended. Greater improvements in lung function are achieved with the addition of a long-acting beta(2)-agonist to ICS therapy, rather than doubling the dose of ICS. Formoterol and salmeterol have a similarly long duration of effect (up to 12 h). However, as a result of their different chemical structures, there are marked pharmacological differences in the mechanism of action which affect their speeds of onset. These differences amount to a more rapid onset of effect for formoterol compared with salmeterol. Long-acting beta(2)-agonists appear to be well tolerated at elevated doses. These two features (tolerability at high doses and rapid onset of effect) support the use of formoterol as a reliever medication in addition to use in maintenance therapy. The long-acting beta(2)-agonists can be considered as beneficial additions to ICS therapy for the management of moderate-to-severe asthma.

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