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Am J Respir Med. 2003;2(3):275-81.

Combination therapy with single inhaler budesonide/formoterol compared with high dose of fluticasone propionate alone in patients with moderate persistent asthma.

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University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.



The efficacy and safety of Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol in a single inhaler) were compared with those of a high dose of the commonly used corticosteroid fluticasone propionate in patients with moderate persistent asthma.


This randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, parallel-group study involved 373 patients with asthma (mean age 42 years; FEV(1) 78% of predicted; reversibility 21%). After a 2-week run-in period, during which patients received budesonide 200 microg twice daily, they were randomly assigned to treatment with either Symbicort Turbuhaler (budesonide/formoterol 160/4.5 microg, one inhalation twice daily) or Flovent/Flixotide Diskus (fluticasone propionate 250 microg twice daily) for 12 weeks.


Significantly greater increases in morning PEF, the primary efficacy variable, were observed in patients treated with budesonide/formoterol compared with fluticasone propionate (27.4 L/min vs 7.7 L/min; p < 0.001). Evening PEF and clinic FEV(1) also favored budesonide/formoterol compared with fluticasone propionate (p < 0.001), as did use of reliever medication (p = 0.04) and the proportion of reliever-free days (p < 0.001). There were also numerical improvements in symptom-free days (60.4% vs 55.5%), night-time awakenings (7.9% vs 9.6%) and asthma-control days (57.8% vs 52.4%) in favor of budesonide/formoterol. The risk of an exacerbation was reduced by 32% in the budesonide/formoterol group compared with the fluticasone propionate group (p < 0.05). Both treatments were well tolerated.


Symbicort (budesonide/formoterol in a single inhaler) was more effective than a high dose of fluticasone propionate in improving lung function, reducing use of reliever medication and improving control of moderate persistent asthma.

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