Asthma ‘pill-a-day’ shows similar effectiveness as inhalers: Study

A new study has shown that a ‘once-a-day’ pill may be on par with an inhaler at combating asthma. This tablet, say researchers could revolutionize treatment for the condition, meaning patients are no longer reliant on inhalers, which many find difficult to use. Around 5.4 million Britons have asthma, including 1.1 million children.

Results of the study has shown that the pills, known as leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs), were just as good at treating symptoms as inhalers, and patients were far more likely to remember to take them. These pills have been available for several years, known by their brand names Singulair and Accolate but are less commonly prescribed.

For the study the researchers looked at 650 patients aged 12 to 80, who had either used preventative inhalers or LTRA pills. Their study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, concludes that 80 per cent of asthmatics who don’t like using preventative inhalers could take the daily pill instead. The researchers found that quality-of-life scores improved over two years in both trials, with differences in the two scores meeting equivalence at two months and approaching equivalence at two years. There were no significant differences between the two groups in exacerbation rates or asthma control questionnaire scores.

According to lead author Professor David Price, from the University of Aberdeen and the University of East Anglia, “We hope these findings will increase the options for healthcare professionals when prescribing for this common but disruptive disease.”

“Study results at two months suggest that LTRA was equivalent to an inhaled glucocorticoid as first-line controller therapy and to LABA as add-on therapy for diverse primary care patients. Equivalence was not proved at two years. The interpretation of results of pragmatic research may be limited by the crossover between treatment groups and lack of a placebo group,” the authors write.

In terms of costs, a 2010 United Kingdom study that compared the costs of the two therapies for initial asthma control found that the price of LTRAs was “significantly higher” than that of inhaled steroids. Several authors disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies; research was supported by Merck Sharp & Dohme, AstraZeneca, and Research in Real Life.

“These study findings don't make me change my mind. It confirms that there are various options, and there's not one answer for everyone,” said Dr. Jennifer Appleyard, chief of allergy and immunology at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit. “The National Institutes of Health has issued guidelines on managing asthma, and a lot of literature review went into setting up those guidelines that recommend trying inhaled corticosteroids first. And, it's been my experience that I get good control with more patients using inhaled corticosteroids,” she said. “But if someone is having trouble using an inhaler regularly or they're having side effects, then I would think about changing their medication,” she added. “But, there's no one medication that will help everyone, and no medication is without risk.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2020, April 03). Asthma ‘pill-a-day’ shows similar effectiveness as inhalers: Study. News-Medical. Retrieved on June 18, 2024 from

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "Asthma ‘pill-a-day’ shows similar effectiveness as inhalers: Study". News-Medical. 18 June 2024. <>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "Asthma ‘pill-a-day’ shows similar effectiveness as inhalers: Study". News-Medical. (accessed June 18, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2020. Asthma ‘pill-a-day’ shows similar effectiveness as inhalers: Study. News-Medical, viewed 18 June 2024,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Extreme heat events linked to higher odds of children's asthma hospital visits