Inhale this

From Saturday’s Washington Post:

U.S. regulators [Friday] asked the makers of three popular asthma medications to add warnings to their labels stating that the drugs could increase the chances of severe asthma episodes that could result in death.

The FDA said that even though long-acting beta 2-adrenergic agonists decrease the frequency of asthma episodes, these medicines may make asthma episodes more severe when they occur.

Asthma drugs are big business, and these latest warnings could hurt the franchises of some of the big drugmakers. But warnings about the danger these drugs pose isn’t exactly new. A 1992 letter to the New England Journal of Medicine points out that people taking this type of medication may be at higher risk of death from allergic reactions because their lungs are tolerized to epinephrine.

Meanwhile preventive measures –such as avoiding smoke, natural gas, perfumes, dust, and fur– get less attention because they don’t drive product sales.

November 20, 2005

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