Serevent Exposes Blacks to Higher Risk of Asthma-Related Death – Study

A new study has found that GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) popular asthma drug, Serevent, (salmeterol), exposes African-American patients to a higher risk of asthma-related death.

The study was led by Dr. Harold S. Nelson, professor of medicine, allergy and immunology at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, Colorado.

Serevent is a member of the beta agonist class of asthma medications, which treat asthma symptoms by relaxing inflamed airways.

According to Dr. Nelson: “The bottom line is that in a very large study in which salmeterol or a placebo was added to whatever treatment patients already were on, there was an increased number of severe asthma attacks, including fatal attacks.

The researchers analyzed data from 1996 to 2003, looking at the harmful side effects of salmeterol among more than 26,000 males and females over 12 years of age.

All subjects were asthma sufferers already taking some form of asthma medication other than inhaled beta antagonists. In the year before the study, over 25% of the subjects had visited an emergency room as a result of an asthma attack and 8% had been hospitalized.

Over a 28-week period, each patient used a salmeterol inhaler or a placebo inhaler twice a day along with their current drug regimen.

The study, published in the January issue of Chest, found that white patients on either salmeterol or a placebo showed almost no difference in the number of life-threatening or fatal respiratory or asthma-related episodes.

The researchers noted that before the study began, blacks reported had higher hospitalization and emergency room visit rates due to asthma.

(Source: 2.21.06)

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