Author(s): Berger WE
OBJECTIVE: To discuss the clinical efficacy and safety of formoterol when used to relieve symptoms of asthma and prevent exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB).
DATA SOURCES: A PubMed search was performed for articles published between 1997 and 2005 with the keywords formoterol, asthma, and long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist, with cross-referencing to identify peer-reviewed journal articles.
STUDY SELECTION: Published articles on the clinical use of formoterol for asthma or EIB were included as well as articles detailing the pharmacologic properties of the drug. To present a thorough review of the literature, published studies based on patient number, study design, or other measures of study quality were not excluded.
RESULTS: Formoterol is the only long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist that combines a rapid onset of action (within 3 minutes) with a long duration of effect (approximately 12 hours). Clinically, as recommended by asthma treatment guidelines, formoterol in conjunction with inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs) is a preferred treatment for moderate to severe persistent asthma. Significant clinical data support the use of formoterol in combination with ICSs for the treatment of asthma, with studies demonstrating improved pulmonary function and symptom scores and decreased need for maintenance ICSs and short-acting beta2-adrenergic agonists (SABAs) as relief medication. Recent studies also demonstrate that use of formoterol as needed as relief medication is associated with a prolonged time to exacerbation, improved pulmonary function, and decreased asthma symptoms. When used as monotherapy, formoterol provides protection against EIB. Clinical data also demonstrate that formoterol is safe and well tolerated even in high doses, with an adverse event profile similar to that of SABAs.
CONCLUSION: Overall, formoterol is safe and effective as adjunct controller therapy for moderate and severe persistent asthma and as monotherapy for EIB.Journal of Allergy & Therapy