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Eur Respir J. 2005 Nov;26(5):819-28.

Budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy: an effective asthma treatment option?

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  • 1Klinikum der Philipps-Universit├Ąt Marburg, Baldingerstrasse, 35043 Marburg, Germany.

Erratum in

  • Eur Respir J. 2005 Dec;26(6):1191.
  • Eur Respir J. 2011 Aug;38(2):491.


This 12-month dose-titration study assessed the effectiveness of budesonide/formoterol for maintenance plus relief with a control group using salmeterol/fluticasone for maintenance plus salbutamol for relief. Adolescents and adults (n = 2,143; mean forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) 73% predicted; mean inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) 884 were randomised to budesonide/formoterol 160/4.5 microg two inhalations b.i.d. plus additional inhalations as needed, or salmeterol/fluticasone 50/250 microg b.i.d. plus salbutamol as needed. Treatment was prescribed open label; after 4 weeks, physicians could titrate maintenance doses in accordance with normal clinical practice. Maintenance plus as-needed budesonide/formoterol prolonged the time to first severe exacerbation versus salmeterol/fluticasone (25% risk reduction). The total number of severe exacerbations was significantly reduced in the budesonide/formoterol group (255 versus 329). Both regimens provided sustained improvements in symptoms, as-needed use, quality of life and FEV1, with differences in favour of the budesonide/formoterol group for as-needed use (0.58 versus 0.93 and FEV1 (post-beta2-agonist values). Mean ICS dose during treatment was similar in both groups (653 microg (maintenance plus as-needed) versus 583 microg The simplified strategy using budesonide/formoterol for maintenance and reliever therapy is feasible, safe and at least as effective as salmeterol/fluticasone plus salbutamol.

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