Objective: To review three prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical studies of formoterol (Foradil Aerolizer; Novartis Pharmaceuticals; Basel, Switzerland) at dosages of 12 μg and 24 μg bid for the treatment of patients with asthma.
Data sources: Clinical studies submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration in support of the approval of Foradil Aerolizer for marketing in the United States.
Results: More patients treated regularly with formoterol, 24 μg bid, had a serious asthma exacerbation than did patients who had been treated with placebo. In the first study, 4 of 135 adult patients (3%) who had been treated with formoterol, 24 μg bid, had a serious asthma exacerbation compared to none of 136 placebo-treated patients. In the second study, 5 of 136 patients (3.7%) treated with formoterol, 24 μg bid, had a serious asthma exacerbation compared to 2 of 141 placebo-treated patients (1.4%). In the third study, 11 of 171 pediatric patients (6.4%) treated with formoterol, 24 μg bid, had a serious asthma exacerbation compared to none of 176 placebo-treated patients.
Conclusion: Regular use of high-dose inhaled formoterol (24 μg bid) may be associated with more frequent serious asthma exacerbations.