Objective: High-dose inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) have been associated with the same side-effects as oral corticosteroids. Beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP) and budesonide (BUD) in doses greater than 2000 microg/day are used regularly in severe asthma, despite the fact that safety and efficacy data at such high doses are limited. Fluticasone propionate (FP) has been promoted as being twice as potent clinically as BDP or BUD at doses of 2000 microg/day or less with a similar safety profile. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy and safety of FP with BDP and BUD in 133 symptomatic adult asthmatics requiring at least 1750 microg/day of BDP or BUD.
Methodology: Patients fulfilling the entry criteria were randomized to receive either their regular ICS medication or FP at approximately half the microgram dose for 6 months in an open, parallel group study. The primary efficacy measure was based on morning peak expiratory flow measurements recorded by patients on daily record cards, while determination of safety was based on a number of endpoints including changes in bone turnover indices, the incidence of topical side-effects and assessments of quality of life.
Results: It was shown that patients who were switched to FP, but not those continuing with BDP or BUD, had significant increases in levels of morning serum cortisol and the urine cortisol:creatinine ratio while maintaining asthma control. Serum osteocalcin and the pyridinoline:creatinine ratio, as well as the deoxypyridinoline:creatinine ratio, were also shown to increase only in the FP group. Subjective assessments such as quality of life score, the incidence and ease of bruising, and reports of hoarseness also favoured the FP group.
Conclusions: It is concluded that, at the doses studied and with the delivery devices used clinically, FP is at least as effective as BDP/BUD in the management of severe asthma and may offer clinical advantages with respect to steroid-related adverse effects.