Papers And Originals

Steroid Aerosols in Asthma: An Assessment of Betamethasone Valerate and a 12-month Study of Patients on Maintenance Treatment

Br Med J 1974; 1 doi: (Published 02 February 1974) Cite this as: Br Med J 1974;1:171
  1. M. K. McAllen,
  2. S. J. Kochanowski,
  3. K. M. Shaw


    Betamethasone valerate aerosol is a new compound for the treatment of asthma. Its clinical effectiveness was established in a double-blind cross-over trial in non-steroid-dependent asthmatic patients. At a dosage of 400 to 800 μg/day for three months there was no evidence of suppression of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function, as assessed by tetracosactrin and insulin stress tests.

    A 12-month follow-up study of 120 patients using steroid aerosols (betamethasone valerate or beclomethasone dipropionate) indicated that tolerance does not develop and that a daily maintenance dose of 200 μg/day was adequate in most patients. Temporary lack of response was observed during episodes of sputum production or of heavy exposure to antigen.

    There were no observed side effects other than fungal infections of the respiratory tract. However, the incidence of candidiasis of the pharynx (13%) and particularly of the larynx (5%) in apparently immunologically normal patients was disturbing. These infections were not seen in patients taking 200 μg/day. Though there is yet no evidence that fungal infections associated with steroid aerosols may penetrate the trachea and bronchi the possibility of this indicates that caution should be exercised in their use, particularly in long-term high dosage.