FDA issues black box warning on two asthma drugs

Short stuff: Health roundup

The FDA has ruled that two asthma medications, Serevent and Foradil, have risks that far outweigh their benefits for both children and adults.

But don’t take your child off the medication—speak to your pediatrician. At issue is the fact that the two medications need to be taken in conjunction with an anti-inflammatory medication (i.e., Pulmicort or Flovent) to effectively and safely treat asthma.

If Serevent or Foradil are taken alone,"you’re missing a key part of treatment,” says Lori Wilken, University of Illinois at Chicago clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice."You have to make sure your child is on an anti-inflammatory medication because asthma is an inflammation of the lungs and these drugs alone don’t treat it.”

In fact, children and adults on only Serevent or Foradil are at an increased risk of having an asthma attack because the medication may mask the underlying inflammation, Wilken says.

Physicians should prescribe anti-inflammatory medications first, she says, and if the child’s asthma is still not under control, they can add a drug like Serevent or Foradil. Used correctly, these medications can help treat severe asthma.

“For children who have really bad asthma, I think this is the next step (to add these drugs) and those children do benefit from it,” Wilken says.

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