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A large-scale study of asthma maintenance and relief medication showed that treatment with budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy is more effective in reducing asthma exacerbations than fixed doses of budesonide/formoterol or salmeterol/fluticasone. The 6-month-long, double-blind study, which included 3335 patients with asthma, compared the safety and efficacy of budenoside/formoterol when used for both maintenance and reliever therapy. Patients were randomized into 3 groups: one group received 25/125 mcg salmeterol/fluticasone, 2 inhalations bid, plus terbutaline as a reliever; the second group received 320/9 mcg budesonide/formoterol, one inhalation bid, plus terbutaline as a reliever; and the third group received 160/4.5 mcg budesonide/formoterol, one inhalation bid, plus budesonide/formoterol as a reliever. Patients who took budesonide/formoterol as a maintenance drug and as a reliever used at least 25% less inhaled corticosteroid than those patients on a fixed dose of budesonide/formoterol or a fixed dose of salmeterol/fluticasone. The budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy gives patients the antiinflammatory effect of the budesonide and the rapid-and long-acting bronchodilator of formoterol, thus establishing asthma control with additional inhalations to be taken on an "as-needed" basis. According to the research, this combination treats the underlying inflammation with every inhalation, even when budesonide/formoterol is used for symptom relief.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.