New approach to asthma?

Study suggests daily steroid doses unnecessary for asthma patients

Asthmatics who take daily doses of inhaled steroid medicine fare no better than those who use their inhaler only when symptoms arise, a new study finds.

The report, compiled by 10 academic medical centers across the country—including UC San Francisco—suggested the findings could lead to a new, less-expensive approach to treating asthma’s symptoms, according to a UCSF press release. For the past 20 years, the common approach has been for asthmatics with consistent symptoms to use their inhaler every day to suppress airway inflammation. But the study’s subjects demonstrated that patients who used only their inhaler when they had symptoms did not have more severe episodes and used about half as much of the medication.

“This approach allows personalization of treatment and is easy for patients,” said Homer A. Boushey, MD, senior author of the study. “Also, it could hypothetically result in saving $2 billion a year in medication costs.”