Monday, December 12, 2005

FDA Warning to Asthmatics

We have many asthmatics who regularly visit our web site and who read our newsletters. Some are taking medication and continuing to dive, willing to accept the increased risks incurred. Recently, in mid November the FDA issued a warning about the dangers of taking certain asthma medications containing long acting beta agonists(LABA). Here is some information that might be helpful.

Asthma Drugs
On November 18, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning of the increased risk of severe asthma episodes, which could lead to death, when using an inhalation powder containing long-acting beta agonists (LABAs). The warning followed a 28-week clinical trial of the drugs, which showed an increase risk of fatal asthma events in patients taking a LABA.

Three asthma medications have been named in the public health advisory:

* Advair Diskus
* Foradil Aerolizer
* Serevent Diskus

The FDA says that even though LABAs decrease the number of asthma episodes, the drugs may increase the chances of a severe attack when they do occur.

The FDA has recommended that the drugs remain on the market, but has asked manufacturers to update the products labels to include the risk of severe, potentially life-threatening asthma episodes.

FDA Recommendations

The FDA has highlighted the following recommendations concerning the use of a LABA:

* LABAs should not be used as first-line therapy for asthma. These drugs should only be used in patients who have not responded to other asthma-controlling medications. Other medications that should be tried before LABAs include inhaled corticosteroids.
* If you are currently taking a LABA, the FDA recommends that you continue to take your prescribed medication until you speak with your doctor.
* Do not use a LABA to treat wheezing that is getting worse. Instead, call your doctor if your wheezing is getting worse while you are using a LABA.
* LABAs do not relieve sudden wheezing. Be sure to always have a short acting bronchodilator medicine to treat sudden wheezing.

The warning does not address the use of LABAs for exercise-induced wheezing or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

See also:
Medications, Drugs and Beta Blockers