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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Apr 19;(2):CD005309.

Fluticasone versus HFA-beclomethasone dipropionate for chronic asthma in adults and children.

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  • 1St George's University of London, Community Health Sciences, Cranmer Terrace, Tooting, London, UK, SW17 ORE.



The relative efficacy of fluticasone (FP) and beclomethasone (BDP) propelled with CFCs has been well established. The potency of HFA-BDP is thought to have been improved with new propellant and some studies suggest that it may equipotent at half the dose of CFC propelled-BDP. There is a need to revisit this question in the light of a potentially more potent new non-CFC propellant.


To determine the relative efficacy of FP and HFA-propelled BDP in chronic asthma.


The Cochrane Airways Group Specialised Register was searched using pre-specified terms. Searches were current as of January 2006.


Randomised controlled trials were eligible for inclusion in the review. We compared either CFC or HFA-propelled FP with HFA-propelled BDP. We made a distinction between HFA-BDP and HFA-BDP extra fine, which dispenses smaller particles of drug, leading to different, usually more peripheral distribution in the airways. Any inhaler device was considered, and there was no restriction on studies with or without spacers. We included studies which assessed HFA-BDP given via either pMDI, breath-actuated MDI, or DPI.


Two reviewers independently assessed studies for inclusion in the review. Data were extracted and entered in to RevMan 4.2 using standard meta-analytical techniques with predefined criteria for exploring statistical heterogeneity.


Eight studies (1260 participants) met the inclusion criteria of the review. One study was conducted in children. Study reporting quality was fair, but all studies were of short duration (three to twelve weeks). Only studies assessing HFA-BDP extra fine in comparison with FP were identified. Lung function was not significantly different between extra fine BDP and FP when compared at the same dose in parallel studies, change in FEV1: 0.04 litres (95% CI -0.03 to 0.11 litres; three studies, 659 adults); change in am PEF: -0.69 litres (95% CI -11.21 to 9.83 litres; two studies, 364 adults). Individual studies reported non-significant findings in symptom scores and quality of life questionnaires. There was no significant difference between FP and HFA-BDP in the risk of study withdrawal, dysphonia or when data were reported as any adverse event.


There was no significant difference between FP and extra fine HFA-BDP on FEV(1) or peak flow at a dose ratio of 1:1. However, the number of studies and width of the confidence intervals in the analyses do not exclude a clinically meaningful difference between these two drugs. Difficulty in the successful manipulation of the devices studied may be a barrier to the widespread use of MDIs. One paediatric study was included in the review, so extrapolation of the findings of this review to children is limited. Further longer term studies in adults and children with moderate and severe asthma are required.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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