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Risk of Life-Threatening Asthma Seen With Salmeterol

Risk of Life-Threatening Asthma Seen With Salmeterol

Friday, August 22nd 2003

New safety information and warnings have been added to the labeling for drug products that contain salmeterol, a long-acting bronchodilator used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Talk Paper released last week. The new labeling includes a boxed warning about a small, but significant, increased risk of life-threatening asthma episodes or asthma-related deaths observed in patients taking salmeterol in a recently completed large U.S. safety study.

In January, GlaxoSmithKline halted a trial of salmeterol, the Salmeterol Multi-center Asthma Research Trial (SMART), which compared the effects of salmeterol (Serevent Inhalation Aerosol, 42 µg twice daily) with placebo in patients with asthma for a period of 28 weeks. The preliminary results of an interim analysis showed an increased risk of life-threatening adverse events in those treated with the drug compared with placebo.

The trial showed a higher number of asthma-related deaths (13 vs. 4), and a higher number of asthma-related deaths or life-threatening experiences (36 vs. 23) in the salmeterol group compared with placebo. The SMART study was not prospectively designed to analyze differences in outcome based on demographic characteristics; however post-hoc subgroup analyses based on race and ethnicity were conducted. These analyses showed no increase in respiratory- or asthma-related events among white patients; but among African-American patients there was a statistically significant increase in primary events (respiratory-related death of life-threatening experience) in the salmeterol group (20 vs. 7). In addition, the occurrence of asthma-related death (8 vs. 1) and asthma-related death or life-threatening experience (19 vs. 4) was statistically significantly greater in African-American patients treated with salmeterol compared with placebo.

According to the FDA, "the benefits of treatment with salmeterol in patients with asthma and COPD continue to outweigh the potential risks when used according to the instructions contained in the product labeling."

Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following products are all helpful in severe respiratory conditions:

Go Breathe Clear
Echinacea with Astragalus and Reishi
Immune Boost
Golden Seal Root
Herbal Throat Formula
Herbal Chest Syrup
Superior Olive Leaf
Vitamin C with Hesperidin Complex

Related health information can be found here:

Common Cold
Echinacea - a potent weapon against infection
Echinacea - natures natural immune tonic
Vitamin C is essential for fighting infections, wound healing and coping with stress
Winter ailments and immune boosting

Related articles can be found here:

Behind the Science of Sambucol Virologist Developed Clinically Tested
Doctors Recommend a Multi-Vitamin a Day
Don't Let the Winter Bug Get You!
Olive Leaf Extract - For Winter Ills and Much More
The Echinacea Experts
The Winter First Aid Kit in a Bottle
Year Round Immune Building

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.


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