In studies, long-acting inhalers such as Advair, Serevent, Foradil, and Symbicort improve lung function and reduce the need for rescue medications in patients with asthma.
But more recent research has raised some serious questions about the possible risks of these long-acting inhalers. A new review of studies conducted by the Cochrane Library finds that children using the inhalers improved their lung function but had no change in their risk for severe asthma attacks.
The FDA is now conducting its own investigation on the safety of these drugs. Two years ago, the FDA added a 'black box' warning to the inhalers, saying that the medications may actually increase the odds of asthma-related death.
A new analysis by the FDA suggests children under age 11 may be particularly at risk.
Some advisors feel the inhalers are too dangerous for anyone to use, while others feel benefits still outweigh the risks, at least for adults. FDA researchers are meeting this week to consider whether the medications should remain on the market, or whether they should be banned altogether.