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Respir Med. 1999 Sep;93(9):613-20.

The effect of high-dose fluticasone propionate and budesonide on lung function and asthma exacerbations in patients with severe asthma.

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  • 1Rigshospitalet, RHIMA Centret, Afd, TA (Medicinsk), Copenhagen, Denmark.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the comparative efficacy and safety of equal doses of inhaled fluticasone propionate (FP) and inhaled budesonide (BUD) using their respective dry powder inhalers in a population of severe asthmatics requiring high doses of inhaled corticosteroid. This double-blind double-dummy parallel-group study compared the effects of 24 weeks of treatment with FP (2000 micrograms daily via a Diskhaler inhaler; Glaxo Wellcome, Evreux, France) and BUD (2000 micrograms daily via a Turbuhaler inhaler; Astra Pharmaceuticals, Rijswijka, Netherlands) on lung function and asthma exacerbations in 395 patients with asthma. FP was statistically significantly superior to BUD with respect to the percentage of symptom-free days (P = 0.02), the incidence of days free from rescue bronchodilator usage (P = 0.02) and the distribution of change in peak expiratory flow (PEF) expressed as a percentage of the predicted PEF (P = 0.04). During the treatment period FP was statistically significantly superior to BUD for change in forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1) at 8, 16 and 24 weeks, change in the median daytime symptom score during weeks 5-16, for incidence of symptom-free days and incidence of days free from rescue bronchodilator usage during weeks 17-24. There was no significant difference between FP and BUD with respect to the number of patients experiencing one or more asthma exacerbation (33.8 and 28.4% of patients, respectively). There was, however, evidence that the exacerbations were clinically less severe in patients treated with FP, in that the time to resolution was quicker (11.0 vs. 14.7 days; P = 0.035), mean duration of all exacerbations (for an individual patient) tended to be shorter (18.5 vs. 23.6 days; P = 0.12), the time off work was reduced (4.2 vs. 7.6 days; P = 0.012) and the lowest PEF recorded during the exacerbation was higher (301 vs. 263 l min-1; P = 0.07). There were no clinically relevant differences in the safety (serum cortisol levels, markers of bone turnover, adverse events) of FP and BUD at these microgram equivalent doses. The patients recruited into this study, in retrospect, probably had no need for such high doses of inhaled corticosteroid but, irrespective of this, FP at microgram equivalent doses showed evidence of superior efficacy to BUD with respect to lung function and severity of asthma exacerbations without producing any greater adverse systemic effect.

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