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Should patients with mild forms of asthma take Advair?

According to the FDA, the asthma drug Advair should be used for the shortest period of time possible, until asthma symptoms are under control, and then you should discontinue use. The reason, as John Fauber reports for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, is that the use of Advair can actually make your asthma worse.

But that's not how drug maker GlaxoSmithKline marketed and promoted its drug.

The problem with Advair, apparently, is that it should be used in patients with severe asthma. For those with mild asthma, lung inflammation can be masked by Advair, which could lead to a worsening of the disease.

The consensus seems to be that patients with mild forms of asthma should not stay on Advair for long periods of time - if at all. (Though patients should always consult with a physician before making that decision.)

And because asthma causes thousands of deaths every year in the U.S., when symptoms get worse, this is a serious source of concern for patients and health care providers.

The news gets worse when it comes to how GlaxoSmithKline was alleged to have promoted its drug. As Fauber reports, the drug maker settled with the U.S. Department of Justice - to the tune of $3 billion - on charges that it promoted Advair as a front-line drug for the treatment of patients with mild (as opposed to severe) asthma.

The promotion included kickbacks to doctors - always a no-no when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry.

Source: Advair: How Safe Is This Drug?

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