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Some asthma medications, long-acting beta agonists (LABAs), may be causing more harm than good. These medications will get new safety warnings. According to the FDA, these should never be used alone by children or adults, and doctors and patients will be asked to scale back use of the drugs. Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, say that asthma patients should try to use a single-agent steroid inhaler and avoid combination medications with LABAs unless absolutely necessary.

Some problems with LABAs are that they increase the risk of severe, worsening symptoms and lead to increased hospitalizations and deaths. Advair and Symbicort are combination medications that contain LABAs Serevent or Foradil, along with inhaled corticosteroids. "Corticosteroids suppress inflammation and help reduce symptoms in inflammatory ailments such as asthma and arthritis." FDA review of available clinical trials led the agency to warn that use of LABAs should be limited, as they increase asthma exacerbations, hospitalizations and deaths. There is a particular concern for children using these drugs. The FDA’s Office of Pediatric Therapeutics advises parents that "child[ren] with asthma should not be on a LABA alone."

Additional safety studies, looking at LABAs used with inhaled corticosteroids, must be conducted by drug makers. The FDA will ensure that the new safety measures are being followed, by continuing to scrutinize prescribing patterns.


  1. Gravatar for Brad

    LABAs do not increase the risk of adverse events or asthma-related death, however, poorly controlled asthma does. Asthma is a dual component disease of inflammation and bronchoconstriction. If an asthmatic is being treated with a laba alone they are only treating one compnent of the disease,bronchoconstriction, thus masking the inflammation present in asthmatics. The inflammtion that a steroid treats and without it is at risk of exacerbation. The rates of asthma related deaths steadily increased until combination products (laba +ics) were introduced on the market. Mismanagement of asthma leads to increased asthma related deaths NOT labas and certainly not labas used in combination with ics. If patients were to stop using combination therapy they would be at substantial risk of adverse events and asthma related deaths. Labas are not the problem, however,misinformation and mismanagement are.

  2. Gravatar for roberto colmenar

    Sorry brad but I disagree with you.

    Withdrew my little boy from labas 5 months ago and kept him on steroid preventer only.

    O2 sat levels went up to 98% within a few days (from avg 94%), heart rate down to avg 90 (from avg 130) and no asthma attack since... yes, it may be an exception ... or a side effect ... but it did work for us.

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