As-Needed Budesonide–Formoterol versus Maintenance Budesonide in Mild Asthma

BACKGROUND

Patients with mild asthma often rely on inhaled short-acting β2-agonists for symptom relief and have poor adherence to maintenance therapy. Another approach might be for patients to receive a fast-acting reliever plus an inhaled glucocorticoid component on an as-needed basis to address symptoms and exacerbation risk.

METHODS

We conducted a 52-week, double-blind, multicenter trial involving patients 12 years of age or older who had mild asthma and were eligible for treatment with regular inhaled glucocorticoids. Patients were randomly assigned to receive twice-daily placebo plus budesonide–formoterol (200 μg of budesonide and 6 μg of formoterol) used as needed or budesonide maintenance therapy with twice-daily budesonide (200 μg) plus terbutaline (0.5 mg) used as needed. The primary analysis compared budesonide–formoterol used as needed with budesonide maintenance therapy with regard to the annualized rate of severe exacerbations, with a prespecified noninferiority limit of 1.2. Symptoms were assessed according to scores on the Asthma Control Questionnaire–5 (ACQ-5) on a scale from 0 (no impairment) to 6 (maximum impairment).

RESULTS

A total of 4215 patients underwent randomization, and 4176 (2089 in the budesonide–formoterol group and 2087 in the budesonide maintenance group) were included in the full analysis set. Budesonide–formoterol used as needed was noninferior to budesonide maintenance therapy for severe exacerbations; the annualized rate of severe exacerbations was 0.11 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.10 to 0.13) and 0.12 (95% CI, 0.10 to 0.14), respectively (rate ratio, 0.97; upper one-sided 95% confidence limit, 1.16). The median daily metered dose of inhaled glucocorticoid was lower in the budesonide–formoterol group (66 μg) than in the budesonide maintenance group (267 μg). The time to the first exacerbation was similar in the two groups (hazard ratio, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.78 to 1.17). The change in ACQ-5 score showed a difference of 0.11 units (95% CI, 0.07 to 0.15) in favor of budesonide maintenance therapy.

CONCLUSIONS

In patients with mild asthma, budesonide–formoterol used as needed was noninferior to twice-daily budesonide with respect to the rate of severe asthma exacerbations during 52 weeks of treatment but was inferior in controlling symptoms. Patients in the budesonide–formoterol group had approximately one quarter of the inhaled glucocorticoid exposure of those in the budesonide maintenance group. (Funded by AstraZeneca; SYGMA 2 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02224157.)

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Inhaled Combined Budesonide–Formoterol as Needed in Mild Asthma

BACKGROUND

In patients with mild asthma, as-needed use of an inhaled glucocorticoid plus a fast-acting β2-agonist may be an alternative to conventional treatment strategies.

METHODS

We conducted a 52-week, double-blind trial involving patients 12 years of age or older with mild asthma. Patients were randomly assigned to one of three regimens: twice-daily placebo plus terbutaline (0.5 mg) used as needed (terbutaline group), twice-daily placebo plus budesonide–formoterol (200 μg of budesonide and 6 μg of formoterol) used as needed (budesonide–formoterol group), or twice-daily budesonide (200 μg) plus terbutaline used as needed (budesonide maintenance group). The primary objective was to investigate the superiority of as-needed budesonide–formoterol to as-needed terbutaline with regard to electronically recorded weeks with well-controlled asthma.

RESULTS

A total of 3849 patients underwent randomization, and 3836 (1277 in the terbutaline group, 1277 in the budesonide–formoterol group, and 1282 in the budesonide maintenance group) were included in the full analysis and safety data sets. With respect to the mean percentage of weeks with well-controlled asthma per patient, budesonide–formoterol was superior to terbutaline (34.4% vs. 31.1% of weeks; odds ratio, 1.14; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00 to 1.30; P=0.046) but inferior to budesonide maintenance therapy (34.4% and 44.4%, respectively; odds ratio, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.57 to 0.73). The annual rate of severe exacerbations was 0.20 with terbutaline, 0.07 with budesonide–formoterol, and 0.09 with budesonide maintenance therapy; the rate ratio was 0.36 (95% CI, 0.27 to 0.49) for budesonide–formoterol versus terbutaline and 0.83 (95% CI, 0.59 to 1.16) for budesonide–formoterol versus budesonide maintenance therapy. The rate of adherence in the budesonide maintenance group was 78.9%. The median metered daily dose of inhaled glucocorticoid in the budesonide–formoterol group (57 μg) was 17% of the dose in the budesonide maintenance group (340 μg).

CONCLUSIONS

In patients with mild asthma, as-needed budesonide–formoterol provided superior asthma-symptom control to as-needed terbutaline, assessed according to electronically recorded weeks with well-controlled asthma, but was inferior to budesonide maintenance therapy. Exacerbation rates with the two budesonide-containing regimens were similar and were lower than the rate with terbutaline. Budesonide–formoterol used as needed resulted in substantially lower glucocorticoid exposure than budesonide maintenance therapy. (Funded by AstraZeneca; SYGMA 1 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02149199.)

Reference: N Engl J Med 2018; 378:1865-1876

Association of Inhaled Corticosteroids and Long-Acting β-Agonists as Controller and Quick Relief Therapy With Exacerbations and Symptom Control in Persistent Asthma

Question  What is the efficacy associated with using inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting β-agonists (LABAs) together as both the controller and the quick relief therapy termed single maintenance and reliever therapy(SMART) in patients with persistent asthma?

Findings  In this meta-analysis that included 22 524 patients aged 12 years or older and 341 children aged 4 to 11 years with persistent asthma, SMART was associated with a significantly lower risk of asthma exacerbations compared with a higher dose of inhaled corticosteroids and LABA as controller therapy, absolute risk difference, −2.8% for the older age group and −12.0% for the younger age group, although less robust data were available for this group.

Meaning  SMART was associated with better clinical outcomes than conventional approaches in patients with persistent asthma.

Reference: JAMA. 2018;319(14):1485-1496.

Association of Inhaled Corticosteroids and Long-Acting Muscarinic Antagonists With Asthma Control in Patients With Uncontrolled, Persistent Asthma

Question  What is the efficacy associated with long-acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMAs) as add-on therapy to inhaled corticosteroids in patients with uncontrolled, persistent asthma?

Findings  In this meta-analysis that included 15 randomized clinical trials with 7122 participants 12 years or older with uncontrolled, persistent asthma, LAMA vs placebo as an add-on therapy to inhaled corticosteroids was associated with a lower risk of exacerbations requiring systemic corticosteroids (risk difference, −1.8).

Meaning  LAMA use was associated with better clinical outcomes than placebo in patients with uncontrolled, persistent asthma.

Reference: JAMA. 2018;319(14):1473-1484.

Quadrupling Inhaled Glucocorticoid Dose to Abort Asthma Exacerbations

BACKGROUND

Asthma exacerbations are frightening for patients and are occasionally fatal. We tested the concept that a plan for patients to manage their asthma (self-management plan), which included a temporary quadrupling of the dose of inhaled glucocorticoids when asthma control started to deteriorate, would reduce the incidence of severe asthma exacerbations among adults and adolescents with asthma.

METHODS

We conducted a pragmatic, unblinded, randomized trial involving adults and adolescents with asthma who were receiving inhaled glucocorticoids, with or without add-on therapy, and who had had at least one exacerbation in the previous 12 months. We compared a self-management plan that included an increase in the dose of inhaled glucocorticoids by a factor of 4 (quadrupling group) with the same plan without such an increase (non-quadrupling group), over a period of 12 months. The primary outcome was the time to a first severe asthma exacerbation, defined as treatment with systemic glucocorticoids or an unscheduled health care consultation for asthma.

RESULTS

A total of 1922 participants underwent randomization, of whom 1871 were included in the primary analysis. The number of participants who had a severe asthma exacerbation in the year after randomization was 420 (45%) in the quadrupling group as compared with 484 (52%) in the non-quadrupling group, with an adjusted hazard ratio for the time to a first severe exacerbation of 0.81 (95% confidence interval, 0.71 to 0.92; P=0.002). The rate of adverse effects, which were related primarily to local effects of inhaled glucocorticoids, was higher in the quadrupling group than in the non-quadrupling group.

CONCLUSIONS

In this trial involving adults and adolescents with asthma, a personalized self-management plan that included a temporary quadrupling of the dose of inhaled glucocorticoids when asthma control started to deteriorate resulted in fewer severe asthma exacerbations than a plan in which the dose was not increased. (Funded by the Health Technology Assessment Programme of the National Institute for Health Research; Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN15441965.)

Quintupling Inhaled Glucocorticoids to Prevent Childhood Asthma Exacerbations

BACKGROUND

Asthma exacerbations occur frequently despite the regular use of asthma-controller therapies, such as inhaled glucocorticoids. Clinicians commonly increase the doses of inhaled glucocorticoids at early signs of loss of asthma control. However, data on the safety and efficacy of this strategy in children are limited.

METHODS

We studied 254 children, 5 to 11 years of age, who had mild-to-moderate persistent asthma and had had at least one asthma exacerbation treated with systemic glucocorticoids in the previous year. Children were treated for 48 weeks with maintenance low-dose inhaled glucocorticoids (fluticasone propionate at a dose of 44 μg per inhalation, two inhalations twice daily) and were randomly assigned to either continue the same dose (low-dose group) or use a quintupled dose (high-dose group; fluticasone at a dose of 220 μg per inhalation, two inhalations twice daily) for 7 days at the early signs of loss of asthma control (“yellow zone”). Treatment was provided in a double-blind fashion. The primary outcome was the rate of severe asthma exacerbations treated with systemic glucocorticoids.

RESULTS

The rate of severe asthma exacerbations treated with systemic glucocorticoids did not differ significantly between groups (0.48 exacerbations per year in the high-dose group and 0.37 exacerbations per year in the low-dose group; relative rate, 1.3; 95% confidence interval, 0.8 to 2.1; P=0.30). The time to the first exacerbation, the rate of treatment failure, symptom scores, and albuterol use during yellow-zone episodes did not differ significantly between groups. The total glucocorticoid exposure was 16% higher in the high-dose group than in the low-dose group. The difference in linear growth between the high-dose group and the low-dose group was −0.23 cm per year (P=0.06).

CONCLUSIONS

In children with mild-to-moderate persistent asthma treated with daily inhaled glucocorticoids, quintupling the dose at the early signs of loss of asthma control did not reduce the rate of severe asthma exacerbations or improve other asthma outcomes and may be associated with diminished linear growth. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; STICS ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02066129.)

Reference: N Engl J Med 2018; 378:891-901

Effectiveness of fluticasone furoate plus vilanterol on asthma control in clinical practice

Background

Evidence for management of asthma comes from closely monitored efficacy trials done in highly selected patient groups. There is a need for randomised trials that are closer to usual clinical practice.

Methods

We did an open-label, randomised, controlled, two-arm effectiveness trial at 74 general practice clinics in Salford and South Manchester, UK. Patients aged 18 years or older with a general practitioner’s diagnosis of symptomatic asthma and on maintenance inhaler therapy were randomly assigned to initiate treatment with a once-daily inhaled combination of either 100 μg or 200 μg fluticasone furoate with 25 μg vilanterol or optimised usual care and followed up for 12 months. The primary endpoint was the percentage of patients who achieved an asthma control test (ACT) score of 20 or greater or an increase in ACT score from baseline of 3 or greater at 24 weeks (termed responders), in patients with a baseline ACT score less than 20 (the primary effectiveness analysis population). All effectiveness analyses were done according to the intention-to-treat principle. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01706198.

Findings

Between Nov 12, 2012, and Dec 16, 2016, 4725 patients were enrolled and 4233 randomly assigned to initiate treatment with fluticasone furoate and vilanterol (n=2114) or usual care (n=2119). 1207 patients (605 assigned to usual care, 602 to fluticasone furoate and vilanterol) had a baseline ACT score greater than or equal to 20 and were thus excluded from the primary effectiveness analysis population. At week 24, the odds of being a responder were higher for patients who initiated treatment with fluticasone furoate and vilanterol than for those on usual care (977 [71%] of 1373 in the fluticasone furoate and vilanterol group vs 784 [56%] of 1399 in the usual care group; odds ratio [OR] 2·00 [95% CI 1·70–2·34], p<0·0001). At week 24, the adjusted mean ACT score increased by 4·4 points from baseline in patients initiated with fluticasone furoate and vilanterol, compared with 2·8 points in the usual care group (difference 1·6 [95% CI 1·3–2·0], p<0·0001). This result was consistent for the duration of the study. Pneumonia was uncommon, with no differences between groups; there was no difference in other serious adverse events between the groups.

Interpretation

In patients with a general practitioner’s diagnosis of symptomatic asthma and on maintenance inhaler therapy, initiation of a once-daily treatment regimen of combined fluticasone furoate and vilanterol improved asthma control without increasing the risk of serious adverse events when compared with optimised usual care.