Posts Tagged ‘asthma medications’

Spiriva vs Serevent study

Sunday, September 26th, 2010
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Scientists of a U.S. government-funded asthma study had to spend nearly $1 million of taxpayers’ money after British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline PLC declined to donate its asthma drug and look-alike dummy medicine for the study, which compared two other treatments. … Researchers tested three inhaled treatments: doubling the steroid dose, adding Glaxo’s Serevent or adding Boehringer Ingelheim’s Spiriva, which is approved for emphysema and other chronic lung conditions, but not asthma. The study involved 210 people whose asthma was not well controlled. They took each drug for 14 weeks with two-week breaks in between treatment. Researchers found Spiriva worked better than a double steroid dose and was as effective as Serevent. (Asthma drug Spiriva as good as Serevent: study)

The $5.3 million study was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Scientists of a U.S. government-funded asthma study had to spend nearly $1 million of taxpayers’ money to show that Spiriva was as effective as Serevent. It is amazing how much effort and money we spend just to allow doctors to prescribe another drug to asthmatics that doesn’t address the root cause of asthma, yet eight clinical trials and years of successful application of safe, drug free therapy like Buteyko won’t initiate further research, clinical studies or at least a recommendation to add it as adjunct to conventional treatment.

As a result of this study yet another bronchodilator will be added to standard treatment of asthmatics. Serevent has already got the worst reputation of all asthma drugs for potentially life threatening side effects, now Spiriva could take its place. Long acting bronchodilators increase hyperventilation and worsen underlying asthma problem. Besides, two years ago, after review of 29 studies, Spiriva has been associated with increased risk of stroke. Take a second look at our earlier Blog article Asthma Drugs are reaching a dead end.

Buteyko Clinic USA offers unique breathing rehabilitation programs that result in long term drug free control over asthma, allergies, COPD, rhinitis, chronic cough, snoring, sleep apnea, anxiety, panic, chronic hyperventilation syndrome and other chronic conditions. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Latest asthma drugs update.

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

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Intal inhaler is discontinued. FDA investigates Xolair.

It looks like the bad news for patients on asthma medications just keep coming. 

First LABA long-acting bronchodilators were considered to be pulled off the market, then Singulair has been associated with psychiatric side effects, then switch from CFC to HFA inhalers caused a massive wave of anger and frustration among asthmatics (Find more information in my January, March and June posts).

And now the newest and the most expensive asthma medication Xolair is under the investigation by FDA.  The drug was approved in 2003 for use by adults and adolescents (12 and older) with moderate to severe persistent asthma who react to a perennial airborne allergen and whose symptoms are not well controlled with inhaled corticosteroids.

Xolair is usually administered as once- or twice-a-month injection. A one-month supply of Xolair costs patients between $550 and $2,700, and the treatment has to be ongoing.

According to the statement issued by the FDA on July 16, 2009, interim data from a study conducted by Genentch, the manufacturer of Xolair (omalizumab), suggests that users of the drug could face an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and other potentially life-threatening problems. At this time, no conclusions have been reached by the FDA about the causal connection between the study findings and Xolair side effects, but the information was provided to inform the public about an ongoing safety review of the drug.

The study, Evaluating the Clinical Effectiveness and Long-Term Safety in Patients with Moderate to Severe Asthma (EXCELS), compared the long-term safety of Xolair over five years use to a control group that was not using the drug. Out of 5,000 asthma suffers 12 years old or older, preliminary data has shown a disproportionate increase in:

• Ischemic heart disease
• Arrhythmias
• Cardiomyopathy and Cardiac Failure
• Pulmonary hypertension
• Cerebrovascular disorders
• Embolic, Thrombotic and Thrombophlebitic Events


Intal (cromolyn sodium) is one of the older asthma drugs that got pushed out by newer and stronger steroid-based and LABA inhalers. Cromolyn sodium is a type of anti-inflammatory medicine that is not a corticosteroid. Some asthma sufferers have been using it for years and liked the idea of controlling their asthma with non steroid type of medication.

Now King Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Intal issued a letter stating that Intal inhaler will be phased out. From their letter 
 This decision is based upon many factors, including our inability to identify a qualified manufacturer for chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellant inhalers and our inability, despite best efforts, to reformulate INTAL® to a chlorofluorocarbon-free or hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) propellant formulation.


Buteyko Clinic USA offers unique breathing rehabilitation programs that result in long term drug free control over asthma, allergies, COPD, rhinitis, chronic cough, snoring, sleep apnea, anxiety, panic, chronic hyperventilation syndrome and other chronic conditions. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Michael Jackson’s death.

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Another call to check your prescription list.

Sadly, another huge celebrity’s death is suspected to be caused by prescription drug overdose.
Following the just recent sudden and tragic deaths of Heath Leger, Anna Nicole Smith and her son Daniel, the pop legend Michel Jackson passed away on June 26th.

We keep hearing about the combination of addictive medications he’d been using – anti-anxiety, anti-depressants, and painkillers, which likely contributed to his sudden death.

Continuing the theme of my past articles, I’d like to remind you that it is never too late to give your attitude toward health a new direction. 

There is no such thing as an absolutely safe drug. Long-term and multiple-interaction drug studies are never done properly because of cost effectiveness and too many factors involved.  And sadly, our society becomes increasingly overmedicated.

I believe a fundamental health care reform starts inside every one of us. We have to become educated and responsible consumers, not only of vacuums and cars, but of our most precious commodity – health.  There is how to start:

• Make a personal choice to invest your health care costs and your time into lifestyle modifications and disease prevention (

• Re-examine your prescription list with your doctor.  Question the necessity and dose safety of each drug. Ask about drug interactions, and the short-term and long-term side effects. Ask if your drug is habit forming.

• Educate yourself on healthier therapies and natural remedies (not all of them are safe or effective either).

• Teach your children proper attitude toward their health.  Talk to your teenage children about substance abuse. 
And most importantly, teach by example!

Buteyko Clinic USA offers unique breathing rehabilitation programs that result in long term drug free control over asthma, allergies, COPD, rhinitis, chronic cough, snoring, sleep apnea, anxiety, panic, chronic hyperventilation syndrome and other chronic conditions. Contact us today for a free consultation.

SINGULAIR label will display stronger warning

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Following my earlier article “Asthma drugs are reaching a dead end,” another popular asthma drug, Singulair, was brought into focus by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of a host of reported psychiatric problems.

After 15 months of investigation, the FDA said Merck & Co. Inc., AstraZeneca and Cornerstone Therapeutics would have to raise label warnings about psychiatric problems reported by a handful of patients taking their drugs. …

“Patients and healthcare professionals should be aware of the potential for neuropsychiatric events with these medications,” the FDA said in a posting to its Web site. …

Singulair was Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck’s best-selling product last year, with U.S. sales of $3.5 billion. …

FDA regulators last spring began reviewing a handful of reports about mood changes, suicidal behavior and suicide in patients who had taken Singulair. The agency also launched probes into other drugs in the class, including AstraZeneca PLC’s Accolate and Cornerstone Therapeutics Inc.’s Zyflo….

“We did move this language to the ‘precautions’ section to highlight that we’re continuing to see these things,” said FDA spokeswoman Karen Riley. The exact language of the labeling updates has not been released, but the FDA said it could mention a slew of psychiatric problems, including:  “agitation, aggression, anxiousness, dream abnormalities and hallucinations, depression, insomnia, irritability, restlessness, suicidal thinking and behavior — including suicide — and tremors.”

In general, the FDA has started notifying the public earlier about possible safety issues with drugs after the agency came under fire for acting too slowly on drugs, like Merck’s painkiller Vioxx, which was removed from the market in 2004 because it doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke. (

Singulair (Montelukast sodium) is a leukotriene inhibitor. Leukotrienes are chemicals a body produces in response to an allergen.
Singulair is usually prescribed as an “add on” drug for patients whose asthma has an allergic component, or for respiratory allergies alone. It should be used on a daily basis as preventive medication.

As many other asthma drugs, Singulair is not treating the underlying cause of asthma.  It is prescribed in hopes that prevention of respiratory allergic reaction eposodes will also prevent asthma flare ups. 

With the Buteyko therapy, such “add on” drugs are usually safely eliminated first, followed by bronchodilators, and later in the therapy, steroid-based drugs. 

Consider taking  an AsthmaCare course to improve your asthma without taking medication that might endanger your health further by triggering serious side effects.

Buteyko Clinic USA offers unique breathing rehabilitation programs that result in long term drug free control over asthma, allergies, COPD, rhinitis, chronic cough, snoring, sleep apnea, anxiety, panic, chronic hyperventilation syndrome and other chronic conditions. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Steroid drugs turn 60

Friday, June 5th, 2009

There was a 60th anniversary of cortisone invention in April, which happened to take place in Minnesota’s very own world famous Mayo Clinic. It prompted me to write an article about cortisol, why is it called a “stress hormone” and how it all is connected to corticosteroid based drugs widely used for controlling asthma.

More and more researches now confirm that many diseases indeed are connected to stress. So, what exactly is stress  and why it is harmful to our bodies? 

Stress is a reaction that out body produces in response to stressors. A stressor could be anything from environmental factors to physical harm to the body and strong emotional reaction.  Stressors may be pleasant or unpleasant, and each person will likely have a different degree of response to them. As the human body is trying to counteract physiological changes that are happening with the stress, if the attempt is quickly successful, our health is not affected. But if stress is extreme or long lasting, the mechanism of returning to normal physiological functioning could fail. In 1936, Hans Selye, a pioneer in stress research, showed that a variety of stressful conditions could produce 3 stages of stress response – the Fight or Flight Response, the Resistance Reaction and Exhaustion.

 The Fight or Flight Response quickly mobilizes the body’s resources for immediate physical activity. It brings large amount of glucose and oxygen to the organs that are most active in fighting danger: the brain, the skeletal muscles and the heart.  Other non-essential organ functions become temporarily inhibited. Blood pressure elevates, and water retention increases in order to preserve body fluid in case of severe bleeding.
Unlike the first stage, the Resistance Reaction is longer lasting and releases hormones, among them Cortisol. By repairing damaged cells and reducing inflammation, those hormones help to fight stress longer, after the Fight or Flight dissipates. Usually, it is successful, and body functions return to normal. Occasionally though, the Resistance stage fails, or resources of the body become so depleted that they cannot sustain the Resistance stage and Exhaustion settles in. Prolonged exposure to a high level of Cortisol and other hormones causes wasting of muscle, suppression of the immune system, ulceration of the gastrointestinal tract and other pathologies.

People under prolonged stress are at a greater risk of developing chronic disease or dying prematurely.

On April 20, 1949, scientists at the Mayo Clinic announced they had succeeded in synthesizing a hormone found to have anti-inflammatory properties and useful in treating rheumatoid arthritis, which was named “cortisone”.  This finding was a result of 19 years of work.

In the 1930s, Edward Kendall, Ph.D. had isolated six hormones from the tiny adrenal glands. He named them in the order in which they were isolated: compounds A through F. Dr. Phillip Hench, M.D., who was Mayo Clinic’s first rheumatologist,… saw patients with arthritis whose symptoms had mysteriously improved when they experienced jaundice, during pregnancy, and immediately after unrelated surgery. He hypothesized that in these patients, something had prompted the secretion of a natural anti-rheumatic. He termed it “Substance X.”(*cortisol)…Over the course of many conferences, the two physicians decided that Substance X was most likely an essential hormone, possibly a steroid. It took years to synthesize the compounds so that enough could be manufactured to allow clinical tests. On Sept. 21, 1948, a patient at Saint Marys Hospital received the first injection of Compound E(*cortisone). Three days later there was an astonishing change — less muscular stiffness and soreness. Over the next seven months, trials were completed on 14 patients with severe or moderately severe rheumatoid arthritis. All showed marked improvement. Publication of the Mayo collaborators’ findings brought them international recognition. In 1950, Drs. Kendall and Hench learned they were co-winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine — sharing the prize with Dr. Tadeus Reichstein of Switzerland, who had simultaneously isolated the hormones of the adrenal cortex. They accepted the award at the Nobel presentations in Stockholm, Sweden. (Cortisone Discovery and the Nobel Prize (

So it just turned out that the “stress hormone”, cortisol, possessed anti-inflammatory properties which were utilized for making a whole new class of corticosteroid medication.

Corticosteroid drugs to this day remain one of the most powerful weapons in the struggle against many debilitating, chronic (including life threatening) conditions.  Their miracle lies in their powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Their shortcoming lies in the immune system suppression, which with prolonged use leads to side effects related to depleting of the body’s own immune system.  

Side effects include water retention, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, cataract, muscle weakness, stomach ulcers and other.  Corticosteroids should not be stopped suddenly or reduced without consulting a doctor.

Corticosteroids, both oral and inhaled, are widely used for treating asthma. They are prescribed in a form of preventive or combination inhalers, or as a systemic therapy, which consists of one or a few repeated courses of oral steroids.  Mometasone (“Asmanex”), Budesonide (“Pulmicort”, “Symbicort”) and Fluticasone (“Flovent”, “Advair”) are steroid components of commonly prescribed in the US inhalers. Prednisone is most commonly used orally for severe asthma, that is poorly controlled with inhaled steroids.

If you are taking steroids for asthma, the AsthmaCare program will explain to you how after a significant improvement with breathing retraining is achieved you can safely reduce the intake of steroid based inhalers. In addition, you will learn how stress affects your breathing and how your breathing is a key to effective stress management and disease prevention. 

In many cases corticosteroids are an essential, temporary tool for taking a moderate to severe asthma under control.  But lifelong medication intake is not the answer to eliminating asthma. 

Call us today and begin moving toward a steroid free life.

Buteyko Clinic USA offers unique breathing rehabilitation programs that result in long term drug free control over asthma, allergies, COPD, rhinitis, chronic cough, snoring, sleep apnea, anxiety, panic, chronic hyperventilation syndrome and other chronic conditions. Contact us today for a free consultation.

GERD medications are found not to help Asthma

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Acid-suppressing medications won’t ease asthma symptoms if you don’t have heartburn symptoms, too, a new study has found. Many people with asthma also have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. But some people have what’s known as silent GERD, meaning they have no symptoms.

Doctors have suspected that if people with asthma breathe in during reflux, they might breathe irritating stomach fluids into the lungs. To reduce that possibility, doctors have been prescribing acid-suppressing medications known as proton pump inhibitors (PPI).But a study in the April 9 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reports that a PPI probably isn’t going to help lessen wheezing in people with silent GERD.

“Patients with asthma that is not adequately controlled with the usual asthma medications, and who have no symptoms of heartburn, but who may or may not have silent GERD, don’t seem to have any improvement of asthma when treated with esomeprazole (Nexium),” said one of the study’s authors, Dr. Robert Wise, a professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Although the two conditions may seem quite different, doctors have long suspected that they’re linked, with each disorder possibly triggering the other. Acid reflux might cause asthma symptoms through aspiration of fluid into the airways, or acid might irritate the esophagus and upper airway, according to the study. And asthma might trigger GERD when it causes difficulty breathing. The diaphragm may overinflate, and the extra pressure may cause the esophageal sphincter to herniate, allowing fluids to wash out of the stomach.

“Our study showed this is not an effective practice,” Wise said. “These drugs are effective for treating heartburn, and if you have asthma and heartburn, then these drugs may well be used for those symptoms”.  (“Acid Reducers May Not Help All With Asthma” by Serena Gordon)

I am relieved to learn that another unnecessary drug has been eliminated from the asthma sufferer’s drug list. A few years back I remember sitting at the doctor’s office waiting for my spirometry test results. I saw a flyer on the wall inviting volunteers to join a GERD – Asthma study. My doctor indeed asked me if I ever had a heartburn or related digestive problems. He even suggested I do the 24 hour esophageal pH test “just in case”. I am glad I declined.

Searching in the dark again, doctors and researchers are thinking that maybe finding a pattern of coexisting conditions will give them more clues for a particular condition’s origin and treatment. These are just some of the conclusions of the studies I’ve found;

• About half of the kids who get eczema will also someday develop hay fever or asthma.

• Recent study by German researchers says children with eczema are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

• According to the University of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, young women who have asthma are twice likely to develop sleep apnea.

• Snoring in women is a sign of pregnancy-induced hypertension and a risk of growth retardation of the fetus, according to a new study reported in CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP).

• University of Michigan researchers published some of the strongest evidence yet that children who snore when they sleep are far more likely to have attention and hyperactivity problems than their non-snoring peers

• Present data suggest that there is a link between the sleep-related breathing disorders and asthma-related symptoms. Moreover, the presence of snoring and observed apnea in individuals with asthma-related symptoms causes further impairment in health-related quality of life.

Young people with asthma are about twice as likely to suffer from depressive and anxiety disorders than are children without asthma, according to a study by a research team in Seattle.

• A. R. Folsom from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and colleagues used data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study to investigate the possible association between asthma, coronary heart disease and stroke. … the team found, ever having had asthma was associated with a 65 percent higher risk of stroke than never having had asthma. The risk with current asthma was somewhat higher, a 93 percent increase.

And that “merry-go-round” statistics could be continued.
It is not surprising to me that more researches cross-link different chronic conditions. I believe more conclusions of this kind are coming. It is surprising that nobody gave a thought to the fact that the majority of those diseases might have a one common cause. Considered separately, those studies are only leading to a higher probability that doctors will be willing to add another drug to a patient’s often already heavy drug regimen.

The Buteyko teaching points out that certainly asthma, many gastrointestinal problems, skin problems, blood pressure, ADHD, sleep apnea, anxiety disorders and many more conditions originate from the pathological processes caused by incorrect breathing, which, in turn, is caused by our lifestyle.
No amount of GERD medication is going to address the root cause of heartburn or asthma. Successful dealing with gastrointestinal problems lies in a complex approach of breathing retraining, dietary considerations, changing of eating habits, parasite and fungal infections elimination and integration of appropriate physical activity.

Buteyko Clinic USA offers unique breathing rehabilitation programs that result in long term drug free control over asthma, allergies, COPD, rhinitis, chronic cough, snoring, sleep apnea, anxiety, panic, chronic hyperventilation syndrome and other chronic conditions. Contact us today for a free consultation.