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Access to original results from “groundbreaking” Asthma Study

September 17, 2019

Going beyond celebrating our results with our participants and our wider audience, we are proud to be able to give you open access to the latest publication of results from our groundbreaking asthma work!

Click here to get access to the original journal publication in The Lancet.

Around 10-15% adults worldwide suffer from asthma – 1 in 6 New Zealanders (around 830,000) live with the disease daily. Now a new, fully independent study of nearly 900 New Zealand patients with mild to moderately severe asthma, conducted by the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand (MRINZ), has found that a simplified, combined inhaler treatment cuts the risk of severe asthma attacks by one third compared to other commonly prescribed treatments.

“The findings from this study are incredibly exciting and will undoubtedly change the way doctors treat mild and moderate asthma worldwide” says study author and MRINZ Director Professor Richard Beasley. “The results provide new evidence supporting recent major changes in the management approach recommended in international asthma guidelines”.

Currently, most adults with mild to moderate asthma take two different inhaler medications; a preventer (an inhaled corticosteroid) taken twice daily to keep symptoms at bay and a separate reliever (an inhaled bronchodilator) taken whenever needed to relieve asthma symptoms such as wheezing. However, in reality, patients are not likely to use them regularly if their asthma symptoms are infrequent, thereby limiting their benefit.

This new study, fully-funded by New Zealand’s Health Research Council (HRC) and published in the prestigious Lancet medical journal, shows that the use of a combined preventer and reliever in the one inhaler, taken only when needed to relieve symptoms, reduces the risk of an asthma attack by around one-third compared with the use of a separate preventer inhaler taken twice daily together with a reliever inhaler as-needed.

The year-long controlled trial involved 890 adults from 15 sites in New Zealand, randomly assigned into one of two groups. One half were asked to use both the preventer inhaler budesonide (Pulmicort) twice daily as well as a separate terbutaline (Bricanyl) inhaler whenever they had symptoms; the other half were asked to just use a single combined preventer-reliever inhaler containing both budesonide and formoterol (Symbicort) whenever they had symptoms. The most striking finding was that in the latter combined preventer-reliever inhaler group, the risk of severe asthma attacks was reduced by 31% compared to the group using the preventer inhaler every day plus the reliever inhaler for symptom relief.