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On demand use of β2-agonists led to better asthma control than regular use in moderate to severe asthma

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QUESTION: In patients with moderate to severe asthma, is on demand β2-agonist inhalation as effective and safe as regular use?


Randomised {allocation concealed}*, blinded (outcome assessors and statistician), crossover trial with 24 weeks of follow up for each treatment condition.


Outpatient clinic at Düsseldorf University Medical Centre, Germany.


80 patients (mean age 48 y, 74% women) with moderate to severe asthma on regularly scheduled β2-agonist (minimum daily intake of 6 puffs) and corticosteroid inhalation for ≥2 years. Exclusion criteria were non-respiratory illnesses or pregnancy. 73 patients (91%) completed the study.


Two 24 week periods in which patients were allocated to on demand inhalation (salbutamol or fenoterol) or regular use β2-agonists …

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  • Source of funding: no external funding.

  • For correspondence: Dr B Richter, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Klinik f Stoffwechselkrankheiten u Ernaehrung, Moorenstr 5, Postfach 101007, D-40001 Düsseldorf, Germany. richterb{at}

  • A modified version of this abstract appears in ACP Journal Club.

  • * Information provided by author.