People who have asthma or who know someone who does should ask their doctor whether he/she is prescribing the appropriate treatment for the condition.
Dr. Gene Colice, who is a pulmonary and respiratory expert at Washington Hospital Center, suggests that many doctors aren’t giving asthma patients the right tools for their particular situation. In a study from the February 2012 edition of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Colice (the study’s lead author) noted that an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) treatment shows 42 percent better penetration of both large and small airways than does a long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) treatment.
In 2010, Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about LABA treatment, saying it was concerned by cases in which patients’ asthma got worse to the point of hospitalization or, in some cases, death. FDA says LABA should be used only as a short-term asthma treatment.
But Colice says many doctors still prescribe LABA treatment in combination therapies that include more medications and more chances for side effects.
Colice says multiple ICS treatments exist in the market, and ICS not only is safer but, on average, it also is 20 percent less expensive than LABA treatment or combination therapy is. If you have asthma and your doctor prescribes LABA treatment, Colice recommends that you ask the doctor whether LABA treatment is appropriate.
“At least it will make the physician think,” he says. “If they know you’re informed, it might make them take another look.”