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FDA Issues Warning for Four Asthma Drugs

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning Thursday about four asthma medications used by millions. The drugs are Advair, Symbicort, Foradil, and Serevent. These drugs have a risk of asthma suddenly worsening. The side effect is rare, but potentially life-threatening.

The FDA recommends that only asthmatics who have unsuccessfully controlled their lung disease with other medications to try these drugs and only for the minimum amount of time needed. Furthermore, long-acting beta agonists (LABA) drugs should always be used simultaneously with different asthma-controlling prescriptions, specifically Foradil and Severent. Advair and Symbicort already contain both types of medications in their inhaler.

LABA medications contain ingredients that relax muscles in airways. This helps with daily symptoms, but allows the inflammation that is building in the airways and could cause a serious asthma attack to go unnoticed. These attacks have led to hospitalization and even some death. The FDA does not recommend the drugs to be used by children, because they are particularly vulnerable. A year ago, the FDA urged doctors to no longer prescribe Foradil and Severent because of their side effects.

Dr. Thomas Casale of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunity believes that the ricks are "probably not going to be a major problem. But, he does feel that doctors still have a "tendency to overuse" the drugs instead of standard medications.

It is important for patients to speak with their doctors and weigh the advantages and risks involved with LABAs.

The FDA director of new drugs, Dr. John Jenkins, stated, "Our goal is to overall reduce the use of LABAs, to manage the risk while at the same time keeping them available for those patients who really need them."

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