Background: Inhaled corticosteroids are increasingly being used to treat mild-to-moderate asthma in children. However, data regarding therapy with this class of compounds, especially in children under age 6 years, is limited. Fluticasone propionate is a third generation inhaled corticosteroid with an optimal therapeutic index. Few large prospective clinical trials have been conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of fluticasone propionate powder in children.
Objective: We sought to determine the efficacy and safety of fluticasone propionate powder administered by means of the Diskus and Diskhaler multidose powder inhalers in pediatric patients with persistent asthma.
Methods: Fluticasone propionate powder (50 microg or 100 microg twice daily) or placebo was administered by means of the Diskus or Diskhaler inhalers to 437 children (4 to 11 years old) with persistent asthma for 12 weeks in a randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, multi-center trial. Patients were stratified according to whether they were receiving prior treatment with inhaled corticosteroids or cromolyn or beta2-agonists alone.
Results: Fluticasone propionate powder administered by means of Diskus or Diskhaler significantly improved FEV1 (mean increase from baseline of 0.22 to 0.24 L; p < or = 0.023), clinic morning peak expiratory flow (mean increase from baseline of 48 to 55 L/min; p < or = 0.006), patient-measured morning (p < or = 0.001) and evening (p < or = 0.003) peak expiratory flow, and asthma symptom scores (in all but the 50 microg Diskus group; p < or = 0.036), as well as reduced albuterol use (p < or = 0.002) and nighttime awakenings (p < or = 0.019) at endpoint. Efficacy parameters were not significantly different between the two doses with either device. More placebo-treated patients discontinued the study because of lack of efficacy than patients in any fluticasone propionate group (p < 0.001). Fluticasone propionate did not suppress morning plasma cortisol concentrations and did not affect 24-hour urinary free-cortisol excretion. Adverse events were primarily pharmacologic effects of inhaled corticosteroids, and those related to the study drug occurred with low frequency. Patient satisfaction with both the Diskus and Diskhaler devices was high, with a majority of patients (> 80%) rating them favorably.
Conclusion: This study demonstrated that fluticasone propionate powder, at the conventional recommended doses of up to 200 microg/day administered by means of Diskus or Diskhaler, was well tolerated and improved lung function in children even as young as 4 and 5 years old regardless of whether they were previously treated with inhaled corticosteroids or cromolyn or beta2-agonists alone.