Pharmacotherapy for the treatment of asthma: current treatment options and future directions

Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2015 Sep:5 Suppl 1:S35-40. doi: 10.1002/alr.21592.


Background: Asthma is a prevalent disease characterized by chronic inflammatory changes of the airway and marked by airway hyperresponsiveness, edema, and excess mucus production. Management of the disease has focused upon reversing the early airway changes and limiting the late effects of airway remodeling. Several classes of medications are available for the effective treatment and long-term control of asthma and novel therapeutic options are in development that hold promise in improving patient outcome.

Methods: A review of updated guidelines and current literature was conducted to identify available pharmacologic treatments of asthma and determine future directions in development of novel therapeutic options.

Results: Inhaled corticosteroids are the most effective medications in long-term asthma control with adjunct medications such as β2-agonists, which can provide symptomatic relief. Other classes of asthma control medications including anticholinergics, cromolyns, and leukotriene receptor modifiers can also be used to develop an effective management strategy based on asthma severity.

Conclusion: Several classes of medications are available for the effective management of asthma. Inhaled corticosteroids play a central role in control of inflammation and several other adjuncts are available to tailor therapy to the patient's symptoms. New therapeutic options that target downstream inflammatory mediators can provide increased efficacy while limiting side effects.

Keywords: anticholinergic; asthma; corticosteroids; ipratropium; pharmacotherapy; theophylline; β-agonists.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Humans


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents