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Eur Respir J. 2000 Aug;16(2):226-35.

Optimal asthma control, starting with high doses of inhaled budesonide.

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Institute of Respiratory Medicine, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW, Australia.

Erratum in

  • Eur Respir J 2000 Sep;16(3):579.


The aim of this study was to determine whether outcomes in poorly controlled asthma can be further improved with a starting dose of inhaled budesonide higher than that recommended in international guidelines. The study had a parallel-group design and included 61 subjects with poorly controlled asthma, randomized to receive 3,200 microg or 1,600 microg budesonide daily by Turbuhaler for 8 weeks (double-blind), then 1,600 microg x day(-1) for 8 weeks (single-blind), followed by 14 months of open-label budesonide dose down-titration using a novel algorithm, with a written asthma crisis plan based on electronic peak expiratory flow monitoring. The primary outcome variable for weeks 1-16 was change in airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), and, for the open-label phase, mean daily budesonide dose. By week 16, there were large changes from baseline in all outcomes, with no significant differences between the 3,200- and 1,600-microg x day(-1) starting dose groups (AHR increased by 3.2 versus 3.0 doubling doses, p=0.7; morning peak flow increased by 134 versus 127 L x min(-1), p=0.8). Subjects starting with 3,200 microg x day(-1) were 3.8 times more likely to achieve AHR within the normal range, as defined by a provocative dose of histamine causing a 20% fall in forced expiratory volume in one second (PD20) of > or = 3.92 micromol by week 16 (p=0.03) [corrected]. During dose titration, there was no significant difference in mean budesonide dose (1,327 versus 1,325 microg x day(-1), p>0.3). Optimal asthma control was achieved in the majority of subjects (at completion/withdrawal: median symptoms 0.0 days x week(-1), beta2-agonist use 0.2 occasions x day(-1), and PD20 2.4 micromol). In subjects with poorly controlled asthma, a starting dose of 1,600 microg x day(-1) budesonide was sufficient to lead to optimal control in most subjects. The high degree of control achieved, compared with previous studies, warrants further investigation.

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