A recent study reveals a new treatment of hard to control asthma in adults. The study, which costs the American government nearly one million taxpayer dollars, found that Spiriva is comparable to GlaxoSmithKline’s Serevent.
Asthma related deaths linger at about 4,000 per year. Nearly 300 million people worldwide have an asthma diagnosis; of those diagnosed, 22 million are within the United States. When a patient has uncontrolled asthma that cannot be regulated with inhaled steroid medications, regulations require the dosage be doubled or a muscle relaxer be added to assist with patient breathing.
Recently researchers assessed 210 different people with uncontrolled asthma. The scientists provided three inhaled treatments in double doses as treatment for their asthma and added Glaxo’s Servent or Boehringer Ingleheim’s Spirava to the regimen. Subjects were administered the medications over a 14-week period, with two-week reprieves in between treatments. Spiriva is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for Emphysema and other chronic lung conditions. Spiriva is currently not approved for asthma treatment.
The research revealed that Spiriva worked better than doubling the dosage of the inhaled steroids and was just as effective as Serevent. At the start of the study, subjects had an average of 77 days free from asthma symptoms and inhaler use. Doubling the dose added an additional 19 days to the average of 77. Spiriva added an additional 48 days and Serevant added 51 days.
British-based GlaxoSmithKline is blamed for the expensive research as well as difficulties faced by researchers. Scientists inquired of the company regarding donations of its popular asthma drug as well as its look-alike dummy drug for the study, however, the company declined. Scientists had to purchase the drug and its placebo costing about $900,000.
Although pharmaceutical companies are not required to donate to studies, often they will donate at least the minimal amount needed to pursue the study. The editorial staff of the New England Journal of Medicine criticized the company. The New England Journal Medicine also published the study.