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.

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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.

Effect of azithromycin on asthma exacerbations and quality of life in adults with persistent uncontrolled asthma (AMAZES): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Background

Exacerbations of asthma cause a substantial global illness burden. Adults with uncontrolled persistent asthma despite maintenance treatment require additional therapy. Since macrolide antibiotics can be used to treat persistent asthma, we aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of oral azithromycin as add-on therapy in patients with uncontrolled persistent asthma on medium-to-high dose inhaled corticosteroids plus a long-acting bronchodilator.

Methods

We did a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled parallel group trial to determine whether oral azithromycin decreases the frequency of asthma exacerbations in adults (≥18 years) with symptomatic asthma despite current use of inhaled corticosteroid and long-acting bronchodilator, and who had no hearing impairment or abnormal prolongation of the corrected QT interval. Patients were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive azithromycin 500 mg or placebo three times per week for 48 weeks. Patients were centrally allocated using concealed random allocation from a computer-generated random numbers table with permuted blocks of 4 or 6 and stratification for centre and past smoking. Primary efficacy endpoints were the rate of total (severe and moderate) asthma exacerbations over 48 weeks and asthma quality of life. Data were analysed on an intention-to-treat basis. The trial is registered at the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR), number 12609000197235.

Findings

Between June 12, 2009, and Jan 31, 2015, 420 patients were randomly assigned (213 in the azithromycin group and 207 in the placebo group). Azithromycin reduced asthma exacerbations (1·07 per patient-year [95% CI 0·85–1·29]) compared with placebo (1·86 per patient-year [1·54–2·18]; incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0·59 [95% CI 0·47–0·74]; p<0·0001). The proportion of patients experiencing at least one asthma exacerbation was reduced by azithromycin treatment (127 [61%] patients in the placebo group vs 94 [44%] patients in the azithromycin group, p<0·0001). Azithromycin significantly improved asthma-related quality of life (adjusted mean difference, 0·36 [95% CI 0·21–0·52]; p=0·001). Diarrhoea was more common in azithromycin-treated patients (72 [34%] vs 39 [19%]; p=0·001).

Interpretation

Adults with persistent symptomatic asthma experience fewer asthma exacerbations and improved quality of life when treated with oral azithromycin for 48 weeks. Azithromycin might be a useful add-on therapy in persistent asthma.

Funding

National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, John Hunter Hospital Charitable Trust.

Reference: The Lancet, Volume 390, No. 10095, p659–668, 12 August 2017

Oral Glucocorticoid–Sparing Effect of Benralizumab in Severe Asthma

BACKGROUND

Many patients with severe asthma rely on oral glucocorticoids to manage their disease. We investigated whether benralizumab, a monoclonal antibody directed against the alpha subunit of the interleukin-5 receptor that significantly reduces the incidence of asthma exacerbations, was also effective as an oral glucocorticoid–sparing therapy in patients relying on oral glucocorticoids to manage severe asthma associated with eosinophilia.

METHODS

In a 28-week randomized, controlled trial, we assessed the effects of benralizumab (at a dose of 30 mg administered subcutaneously either every 4 weeks or every 8 weeks [with the first three doses administered every 4 weeks]) versus placebo on the reduction in the oral glucocorticoid dose while asthma control was maintained in adult patients with severe asthma. The primary end point was the percentage change in the oral glucocorticoid dose from baseline to week 28. Annual asthma exacerbation rates, lung function, symptoms, and safety were assessed.

RESULTS

Of 369 patients enrolled, 220 underwent randomization and started receiving benralizumab or placebo. The two benralizumab dosing regimens significantly reduced the median final oral glucocorticoid doses from baseline by 75%, as compared with a reduction of 25% in the oral glucocorticoid doses in the placebo group (P<0.001 for both comparisons). The odds of a reduction in the oral glucocorticoid dose were more than 4 times as high with benralizumab as with placebo. Among the secondary outcomes, benralizumab administered every 4 weeks resulted in an annual exacerbation rate that was 55% lower than the rate with placebo (marginal rate, 0.83 vs. 1.83, P=0.003), and benralizumab administered every 8 weeks resulted in an annual exacerbation rate that was 70% lower than the rate with placebo (marginal rate, 0.54 vs. 1.83, P<0.001). At 28 weeks, there was no significant effect of either benralizumab regimen on the forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), as compared with placebo. The effects on various measures of asthma symptoms were mixed, with some showing significant changes in favor of benralizumab and others not showing significant changes. Frequencies of adverse events were similar between each benralizumab group and the placebo group.

CONCLUSIONS

Benralizumab showed significant, clinically relevant benefits, as compared with placebo, on oral glucocorticoid use and exacerbation rates. These effects occurred without a sustained effect on the FEV1. (Funded by AstraZeneca; ZONDA ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02075255.)

Reference: N Engl J Med 2017; 376:2448-2458June 22, 2017