Fluticasone propionate is a corticosteroid with comparatively high receptor affinity and topical activity. Inhaled fluticasone propionate < or =500 microg/day provided effective corticosteroid maintenance treatment in patients with mild to moderate asthma in randomised, controlled clinical studies of 4 to 24 weeks in duration. Dosages of 50 to 250 microg twice daily produced consistent improvement in spirometric measures of lung function, reduced the frequency of as-needed beta2-agonist bronchodilator use, asthma symptom scores and night-time wakenings, and prevented asthma exacerbations compared with placebo. Fluticasone propionate < or =250 microg twice daily provided significantly greater improvements in lung function than nedocromil 4 mg 4 times daily, theophylline (5 to 15 mg/L) or zafirlukast 20 mg twice daily. Health-related quality of life improved significantly with fluticasone propionate 88 microg twice daily, but not zafirlukast 20 mg twice daily or placebo. In comparative trials in which fluticasone propionate was given at half the dosage of beclomethasone dipropionate, budesonide or flunisolide, fluticasone propionate < or =250 microg twice daily produced equivalent or greater improvement in spirometric parameters and equivalent reductions in the use of as-needed beta2-agonists than beclomethasone dipropionate, budesonide or flunisolide. Fluticasone propionate 250 microg twice daily was generally more effective than triamcinolone acetonide 200 microg 4 times daily in two 24-week trials. The combination of inhaled fluticasone propionate < or =250 plus salmeterol < or =50 microg twice daily allowed for the use of lower dosages of the inhaled corticosteroid. The incidence of adverse events in patients receiving inhaled fluticasone propionate 50 to 250 microg twice daily was similar to that in beclomethasone dipropionate 168 to 500 microg twice daily and budesonide 100 to 600 microg twice daily recipients and greater than that in recipients of triamcinolone acetonide 200 microg 4 times daily in comparative trials. The incidence of oral candidiasis was < or =8% in patients treated with fluticasone propionate < or =250 microg twice daily or other agents. There was no evidence of clinically significant hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis suppression with fluticasone propionate < or =250 microg twice daily in comparative trials.
Conclusions: Inhaled fluticasone propionate < or =500 microg/day is an effective antiinflammatory therapy for mild to moderate asthma in adolescents and adults. The drug is more effective than nedocromil, theophylline or zafirlukast and is at least as effective as other inhaled corticosteroids administered at twice the fluticasone propionate dosage. The addition of inhaled salmeterol allows the use of lower maintenance dosages of fluticasone propionate. The drug is well tolerated and there is no evidence of a clinically significant effect of this dosage on HPA axis function. Hence, fluticasone propionate < or =500 microg/day is a particularly suitable agent for patients with mild to moderate asthma.