Washington, May 5: A new study has found that a rarely prescribed asthma drug is just as effective as inhalers and easier to use.
Researchers of the new study led by the University of East Anglia (UEA), followed 650 patients with chronic asthma for two years.
They found that tablets called leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs) managed the disease equally successfully as steroid inhalers and other "preventer" inhalers when used in addition to steroid inhalers.
LTRAs, sold under the brand names "Singulair" (montelukast) and "Accolate" (zafirlukast), have long been on the market as an alternative to the steroid inhalers commonly used by asthmatics to ward off attacks.
They have historically been less fashionable than inhalers, however, and are considered by some to be less effective.
Under UK guidelines they are currently recommended as third or fourth steps in asthma management. As a result, LTRAs are far less frequently prescribed than inhalers.
The results indicate that LTRAs could provide an effective alternative to steroid inhalers and other "preventer" inhalers when used in addition to steroid inhalers, which could be useful for the more than 80 percent of patients who have problems using inhalers, are unable to use them due to side effects, or do not want to take steroids.
"We hope these findings will increase the options for healthcare professionals when prescribing for this common but disruptive disease," lead author Prof David Price of the University of Aberdeen and UEA said.
"We found that adherence to treatment was vastly improved - by as much as 60 percent - when patients were given the once-a-day LTRA tablets and patients did not have to worry about using appropriate inhaler technique," he stated.
Co-author Dr Stanley Musgrave of Norwich Medical School at UEA added: "LTRAs are easy to use and can help patients control their asthma effectively and improve their quality of life."
The findings will be published in the New England Journal of Medicine. (ANI)