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b-agonist safety and the elephant in the room? We read with interest the recent paper by Weatherall et al who presented data from a meta-analysis of the relative safety of longacting b-agonists (LABAs). 1 In 2008 the FDA reported on the safety of LABAs and concluded that the nature and magnitude of risk needs to be confirmed. When adverse outcomes are reported relatively infrequently in clinical trials, it is difficult to interpret the value of such analysis and a more thorough examination of these index cases may yield more meaningful information about individual risks per se. Polymorphisms in the b2-adrenoceptor have long been linked to differences in response to b2-agonists after chronic dosing. In asthma, the prevalence of the genotype Arg-Arg-16 is approximately 15 % and of Arg-Gly-16 is 45%. 2 In patients with asthma using frequent b-agonists, there is an increased risk of asthma exacerbation per copy of Arg16 allele (OR 1.64; 95 % CI 1.22 to 2.20; p0.001). 3 Could this be the elephant in the room for better understanding risk? In a recent multicentre study assessing salmeterol as an add-on to inhaled corticosteroids in genotype-selected patients (the LARGE study), patients with the Gly-Gly-16 genotype had a 2.4-fold greater improvement in bronchial hyper-reactivity (BHR) with salmeterol than with placebo (p<0.0001), while patients with the Arg-Arg genotype had no such benefit (p0.87). 4 Lee et al have previously shown similar differences in response to BHR for patients with the Gly-Gly genotype compared with individuals carrying either one or two copies o

Year: 2011
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