Are LABAs safe to use?

The results of a new study may allay widespread safety fears

It’s fine to add LABAs to low-dose inhaled corticosteroids for the treatment of uncontrolled asthma, according to research that may allay widespread safety fears.

Current guidelines for the management of asthma suggest that inhaled glucocorticoids should be used as initial controller therapy, with a LABA then added for hard-to-treat cases, but questions have remained about the safety of this drug class.

However, the latest evidence, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, supports the use of this add-on therapy when needed.

In a 26-week, industry-supported randomised trial, 11,693 patients with persistent asthma were assigned to receive budesonide–formoterol or budesonide alone. 

Patients with a history of life-threatening asthma were excluded.

The results show that the addition of the LABA formoterol to budesonide monotherapy prevents asthma