Budesonide/formoterol for maintenance and reliever therapy in the management of moderate to severe asthma

Allergy. 2008 Dec;63(12):1567-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2008.01863.x.


The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) guidelines aim at improving asthma control and preventing future risk. For patients with moderate to severe asthma an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) or an ICS/long-acting beta2-agonist (LABA) combination with a short-acting beta2-agonist (SABA) as reliever is recommended. Despite the availability of effective maintenance therapies, a large proportion of patients still fail to achieve guideline-defined asthma control, and overuse of SABA reliever medication at the expense of ICS is commonly observed. New simplified treatment approaches may offer a solution and assist physicians to achieve overall asthma control. One such treatment approach, which is recommended in the GINA guidelines, is budesonide/formoterol for both maintenance and reliever therapy. This treatment strategy significantly reduces the rate of severe asthma exacerbations compared with ICS/LABA plus SABA and achieves equivalent daily symptom control compared with higher doses of ICS/LABA plus separate SABA for relief. These benefits are achieved at a lower overall steroid load, and budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy is well tolerated in patients with moderate to severe asthma. This review discusses current asthma management in patients with moderate to severe disease and examines the evidence for alternative asthma management approaches.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Animals
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Budesonide / administration & dosage
  • Budesonide / pharmacology*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Ethanolamines / administration & dosage
  • Ethanolamines / pharmacology*
  • Formoterol Fumarate
  • Humans
  • Severity of Illness Index*


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Ethanolamines
  • Budesonide
  • Formoterol Fumarate