— Stepping down asthma medicines can be done safely and at a
lower cost for patients, says a new Mayo Clinic study
published recently in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical
common for patients and doctors to test if taking less daily
asthma medicine is safe — primarily because of the high cost
of asthma medicine. However, deciding when to reduce daily
asthma medicines can be challenging, and it would be helpful
to understand the risks involved. The study, led by Dr.
Matthew Rank, an allergy and immunology specialist at Mayo
Clinic in Arizona, analyzed asthma outcomes after patients
stepped down their daily asthma medicines. The team studied
more than 4,000 patients (adults and children) who were taking
daily asthma medicines and focused their analysis on two
groups: patients who had stable asthma for at least one year
who stayed on their same daily asthma medicine and patients
who had stable asthma for at least one year who stepped down
their daily asthma medicine.
down asthma medicines in patients who have had stable asthma
for at least one year appears to be as safe as continuing the
same level of medicines, the study found. Only 11 percent of
patients had problems with their asthma in the 4-5 months
after stepping down their asthma medicines.
to reduce the daily asthma medicine speaks to the principle of
using the least amount of medicine to control symptoms and
prevent attacks," Dr. Rank says.
the study is the first to broadly consider the financial
costs. Patients who stepped down their asthma medicines saved
an average $34 each month compared to patients who maintained
their same level of medicines. The authors did not find
increased costs for hospital or emergency asthma care for
patients who stepped down their dosage. Also, patients who
stepped down did not miss any more work or school than
patients who kept their medicines at the same level.
study is important because many people with asthma may be able
to safely reduce their asthma medicines with the appropriate
guidance from their healthcare teams," Dr. Rank added.
"Many patients try to step down on their own, but we
encourage patients to work with their doctors before doing
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology is the official
scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal
in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.