Background: Current treatment guidelines define inhaled corticosteroids such as fluticasone propionate (FP) as the cornerstone of anti-inflammatory therapy for asthma.
Objective: The objective was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of adding salmeterol therapy to patients who remain symptomatic while receiving FP as compared with increasing the dose of FP.
Methods: In a multicenter, double-blind study conducted over 24-weeks, 437 patients aged 12 years and older and receiving FP 88 microg twice daily for 2 to 4 weeks were randomly assigned to receive either salmeterol (42 microg twice daily) or FP 220 microg twice daily. The primary efficacy endpoint was morning peak expiratory flow. Secondary measures included FEV1, symptom scores, nighttime awakenings, and supplemental albuterol use. Safety was assessed by reported adverse events and asthma exacerbations.
Results: The addition of salmeterol resulted in significantly greater improvements in lung function and symptom control as compared with increasing the dose of FP. Over weeks 1 to 24, morning peak expiratory flow was increased by 47 L/min from baseline with salmeterol treatment as compared with 24 L/min with FP 220 microg twice daily (P < .001) while the percent of symptom-free days increased from baseline by 26% of days as compared with 10% of days (P < .001). The adverse event profiles were similar between groups and fewer exacerbations were reported with salmeterol treatment.
Conclusions: The addition of salmeterol therapy to patients who remain symptomatic while using a low dose of FP was clinically and statistically superior to increasing the dose of FP.