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Clearing the air on clearing the airways.

In our July issue, we reviewed some of the current thinking on asthma treatment, with particular reference to a National Institutes of Health panel report earlier this year. The report compared the use of the newer anti-inflammatory drugs with the more conventional asthma drugs, such as theophylline and the newer bronchodilators known as beta-2 agonists. Many physicians now think the anti-inflammatory medications are more appropriate in many instances.

The American Academy of Allergy and Immunology has been concerned that media reports which question the use of beta-2 agonists to treat asthma have caused great anxiety among asthmatics and the public. Accordingly, they have issued the following statement:

"As with any medicine, beta-2 agonists and theophylline medications for asthma should be administered under the supervision of a physician knowledgeable about their proper use and potential side effects. Serious side effects usually occur only when they are overutilized or improperly utilized by patients. They are safe and effective when used according to established guidelines. The American Academy of Allergy and Immunology recommends that patients using beta-2 adrenergic agonists for relief of airflow obstruction in asthma should continue their use as recommended by their physician.

"The primary role of anti-inflammatory medications, and the secondary or backup use of beta-2 agonists and other bronchodilating medications, have been carefully outlined in the [pamphlet] Guidelines on the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma'...which is available upon request."

To obtain a copy of the Academy's position statement on the beta-2 agonist, or for more information on asthma, interested persons may call 1-800-822-ASMA (2762).
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Title Annotation:use of beta-2 agonists to treat asthma
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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