No significant difference between LAMAs and LABAs in treating persistent asthma, research finds

Data from 15 randomised trials show that while long-acting muscarinic antagonists reduced exacerbation risk by a third, there was no significant improvement compared with long-acting beta-agonists.

Asthma inhaler, salmeterol, long acting beta agonists (LABA)

Long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs), such as salmeterol, are currently the primary add-on therapy for patients with persistent asthma. However, the comparative efficacy of long-acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMAs), such as tiotropium bromide, is less clear.

To explore, researchers carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of 15 randomised trials comparing a LAMA with placebo or a LABA, as add-on therapy to inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) in 7,122 patients with persistent asthma[1]

The data show that LAMAs reduced the risk of exacerbations requiring systemic corticosteroids by 33% and asthma worsening by 19%, compared with placebo, but there was no significant improvement compared with LABA therapy. The researchers also discovered that triple therapy (ICS+LABA+LAMA) provided no additional benefit over ICS+LABA with regards to exacerbation risk.

Reporting in JAMA (online, 19 March 2018), the researchers said the current evidence does not suggest a significant difference between LABAs and LAMAs in preventing exacerbations but further studies are needed to determine if either is superior.


[1] Sobieraj D, Baker W, Nyugen E et al. Association of inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting muscarinic antagonists with asthma control in patients with uncontrolled, persistent asthma. JAMA 2018;319(14):1473–1484. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.2757

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, June 2018, Vol 10, No 6;10(6):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20204704

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