The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered four drug manufacturers to conduct additional post-marketing clinical trials of their long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs). LABAs to be studied are AstraZeneca’s Symbicort, GlaxoSmithKline’s Advair Diskus, Merck and Co.’s Dulera, and Novartis AG’s Foradil.
The clinical trials will examine the use of LABAs when used in combination with inhaled steroids. Each of the LABAs plus a corticosteroid will be compared with the steroid alone in patients 12 years of age and older. A total of 46,800 patients will be studied. Another trial will include 6,200 younger patients, aged 4 to 11, using Advair Diskus.
Last June, the FDA issued warnings on LABAs, saying they should never be used on their own to treat asthma. Although LABAs relax the muscles of the airway to help patients breathe easier, they can cause an increased risk of asthma symptoms that can lead to hospitalizations and death.
The studies will begin later this year, but results are not expected until 2017.
The huge size of the studies signals that FDA wants to be completely sure about the safety profile of these drugs as they are used so widely.
Clearly however, such large study populations might pose financial challenges for the manufacturers.
We’ll of course bring you updates as they occur.