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Recently, an FDA advisory panel voted to ban the use of Serevent and Foradil for treating asthma. The same panel approved the continued use of Advair and Symbicort as asthma treatments. Asthma is a condition that occurs when a person’s oxygen supply is restricted by spasms and swelling of the airways. Beta agonists, which treat spasms, and steroids, which treat swelling, are the main treatments for asthma. Usually, rescue inhalers contain albuterol, a short-acting beta agonist. With Advair and Symbicort, a long acting beta agonist and steroid are combined in the inhaler. Serevent and Foradil are longer acting beta agonists that are intended to prevent attacks. However, these drugs increase the risk of a more serious attack if they are used without a steroid. The FDA advisory panel found that many doctors and their asthma patients use Serevent and Foradil inappropriately by not using them with a steroid. Often patients are not given a steroid, but many who are prescribed one, don’t take it. This may be due to the fact that the patients feel better when they use Serevent and Foradil, and don’t think that they need the steroid, even though the drugs’ labels contain this warning. Serevent and Foradil will remain on the market, even if the FDA follows the panel’s advice, because those drugs are approved for treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders like emphysema. Serevent is made by GlaxoSmithKline. Foradil is marketed by Novartis and Schering-Plough.

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