Annals of the American Thoracic Society

Increased Dose of Inhaled Corticosteroid versus Add-On Long-acting β-Agonist for Step-Up Therapy in Asthma.

PMID 25756308


Guidelines advocate adding long-acting β-agonist (LABA) to inhaled corticosteroid as the preferred step-up therapy to increasing inhaled corticosteroid dose for patients with uncontrolled asthma on inhaled corticosteroid monotherapy. However, less than 5% of patients with asthma qualify for the randomized controlled trials on which guidelines are based. Thus, real-world data are needed to complement the results of randomized trials with narrow entry criteria. To compare the effectiveness of stepping up asthma therapy with an increased dose of various types of inhaled corticosteroid as compared with add-on LABA. We performed a historical matched cohort study using large primary care databases to compare asthma step-up therapy with small- and standard size-particle inhaled corticosteroid versus added LABA for patients 12-80 years old. As outcomes, we examined a composite of asthma control and rates of severe exacerbations. The odds of asthma control and rates of severe exacerbations over one outcome year were comparable with increased inhaled corticosteroid dose versus added LABA. The adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence interval) for achieving asthma control with increased inhaled corticosteroid dose versus inhaled corticosteroid/LABA were 0.99 (0.88-1.12) for small-particle inhaled corticosteroid (n = 3,036 per cohort) and 0.85 (0.67-1.07) for standard size-particle inhaled corticosteroid (n = 809 per cohort). The adjusted rate ratios (95% confidence interval) for severe exacerbations, compared with inhaled corticosteroid/LABA combination inhaler, were 1.04 (0.91-1.20) and 1.18 (0.92-1.54), respectively. The results were not affected by smoking status. When applied to a broad primary care population, antiinflammatory therapy using increased doses of small- or standard size-particle inhaled corticosteroid is as effective as adding LABA, as measured by outcomes important to both patients and providers. Real-world populations and outcomes need to be taken into consideration when formulating treatment recommendations.

Related Materials

Product #



Molecular Formula

Add to Cart

Budesonide, ≥99%
Fluticasone propionate, ≥98% (HPLC), powder
Formoterol fumarate dihydrate, >98% (HPLC)
C19H24N2O4 · 0.5C4H4O4 · H2O