New research shows that using two types of common asthma medications combined in one inhaler is the best option for both preventing attacks and emergency treatment to control them.
The findings, published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, are based on two clinical studies that found the new combo treatment — known as SMART, short for Single Inhaler Maintenance and Reliever Therapy — is more effective at reducing attacks than currently recommended treatment in adults whose asthma is not well controlled.
The studies also showed SMART, which has yet to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, is safe and well-tolerated by asthmatics.
Many adults with asthma are unable to control symptoms with currently available treatments. For such patients, medical guidelines recommend prescribing a corticosteroid (ICS) plus so-called long-acting LABA inhalers and short-acting SABA inhalers in emergencies.
But SMART uses just a single ICS/LABA inhaler for both preventive treatment and emergency relief from an asthma attack.
The first of the two new studies involved 1,714 adults with moderate persistent asthma from 14 European countries and found that those treated with the SMART combination had a significantly reduced risk of severe asthma attacks and hospitalization, compared to current treatments.
"We believe that the additional cost of [SMART] is justifiable because of the significant reduction in severe exacerbations, and specifically hospital admissions, known to have a huge effect on health-care costs in asthma," said the researchers.
A second study, involving 303 asthmatics, also found the SMART combo reduced the risk of severe asthma flare-ups without side effects.
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