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Study: Pills as Effective as Inhalers for Asthma

Researchers Say Singulair and Accolate Work as Well as Steroid Inhalers

Pills vs. Inhalers continued...

“We think this alternative approach works in the real-world setting primarily because it is easier to take a pill once or twice a day than to use an inhaler,” asthma researcher Sven-Erik Dahlen, MD, PhD, of Stockholm, Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and colleagues write in an editorial.

The oral drugs have traditionally been more expensive than inhaled prevention treatments, but Dahlen says this should soon change as generic versions of both Singular and Accolate enter the market.

“These drugs are an acceptable alternative to the traditional first-line preventive treatments,” he tells WebMD. “In general practice, where these drugs are most often prescribed, there may not be enough time to teach patients how to properly use inhalers. With a pill we may see much better compliance.”

The two studies were commissioned and largely funded by the U.K.’s National Health Service.

Merck & Co., which makes Singulair, and AstraZeneca, which makes Accolate, provided some funding, but Musgrave says the companies were not involved with the design or execution of the study or the interpretation of the results.

Musgrave says even though the oral drugs appear to be as effective for the prevention of asthma symptoms, they may not be the best choice for every patient.

“Patients should talk to their doctors to determine the treatment that might work best for them,” he says.

Merck issued a statement saying that the company is pleased that independent researchers are showing continued interest in evaluating the use of leukotriene receptor antagonists, including Singulair, as an important option for treating asthma in appropriate patients.

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