Corticosteroid inhalants, beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP) and budesonide, were compared with each other and with oral prednisolone in patients with steroid dependent chronic bronchial asthma. In a first study in 23 patients the PEF values during 2 weeks’ therapy with a supplementary dose of 200 or 800 micrograms of budesonide or 400 micrograms of BDP were found to be better than those noted during a preceding week with a supplementary dose of 30 mg prednisolone.
In a following open study 31 patients on an initial maintenance therapy consisting of a standard dose of BDP and a mean daily dose of 9 mg prednisolone were treated with increasing (when necessary) doses of budesonide instead of BDP and decreasing (if possible) dose of prednisolone. After one year’s treatment 21 patients were well controlled without oral prednisolone, and the mean prednisolone dose for the entire group was 2.5 mg a day. During the study lung function significantly improved in the subgroup of patients who were initially on the highest dose of oral prednisolone.
In a third study in 17 patients the effects on lung function and on symptom scores were compared after a supplementary therapy with 10 or 20 mg oral prednisolone, or 400 or 800 micrograms budesonide. During such treatment the effect of 400 micrograms budesonide on PEF was the same as that of 10 mg prednisolone, and 800 micrograms budesonide and 20 mg prednisolone seemed to be equipotent. For corticosteroid dependent patients with severe asthma the introduction of budesonide seems to offer an improvement, allowing substantial reduction or withdrawal of oral prednisolone. This had not been possible earlier in such patients without deterioration of lung function and their clinical state. During treatment with budesonide lung function remained unchanged or improved.