Physicians May Be Prescribing Unnecessary Asthma Drugs


Published: 20Mar2003

Approximately three million Canadians suffer with asthma. Inhaled steroids are the standard treatment to ease symptoms and prevent the disease from worsening. However, in the past few years there has been trend among physicians to prescribe a new class of drug, anti-leukotrienes, either alone or in combination with inhaled steroids.

In two groundbreaking evaluation studies, McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) pediatrician Dr. Francine Ducharme, has concluded that contrary to this prescribing trend, better results are achieved by prescribing low doses of inhaled steroids rather than anti-leukotrienes to treat mild to moderate persistent asthma. In June 2002 she showed there is no evidence to suggest that adding antileukotrienes to steroids is better than simply increasing the dose of steroids.

Now in a new study, Dr. Ducharme shows that that anti-leukotrienes, when administered alone as a monotherapy are not as effective than low doses of inhaled steroids. Inhaled steroids work better to control symptoms, reduce the risk of asthma flare-ups and the need for additional relief medications and improve the quality of life of asthmatics. This study will be published in the March 22 issue of the British Medical Journal and is available online at

Contact Information

Christine Zeindler
MUHC Public Relations and Communications
christine.zeindler [at]
Office Phone: 
514-934-1934 ext. 36419