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Substitution of Beclomethasone Aerosol for Oral Prednisolone in the Treatment of Chronic Asthma

Br Med J 1973; 4 doi: (Published 27 October 1973) Cite this as: Br Med J 1973;4:205
  1. S. J. Cameron,
  2. E. Jean Cooper,
  3. G. K. Crompton,
  4. Margaret V. Hoare,
  5. I. W. B. Grant


    In a double-blind study 10 patients with chronic asthma received beclomethasone dipropionate 400 μg daily in a Freon propellant from a pressurized dispenser, and 10 patients received the Freon propellant alone. At the start of the trial each patient was receiving long-term maintenance treatment with oral prednisolone in a dose of 7·5 to 15 mg daily. The daily dose of prednisolone was reduced by 1 mg every four weeks and the patient's progress followed by regular clinical assessment and studies of pituitary-adrenal function. The trial was continued until the dose of prednisolone was reduced to zero or until asthmatic symptoms increased to an unacceptable level.

    In the 10 patients who received beclomethasone the mean maintenance dose of oral prednisolone was reduced by 5·6 mg/day but in only two cases could this drug be withdrawn completely. In the placebo group the mean reduction in dose was only 1·3 mg, thus there was a significant difference between the two groups (P <0·01). Studies of pituitary-adrenal function showed that a normal adrenal response to tetracosactrin stimulation returned only in the two patients from whom prednisolone was withdrawn.

    Hence the addition of beclomethasone dipropionate by inhalation to systemic corticosteroid therapy allows useful reductions to be made in the oral maintenance doses of corticosteroid. Reductions must be made with caution since there is wide individual variation in response to beclomethasone and in only a minority of patients can oral treatment by completely withdrawn.