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Asthma Drug Warning

Jan 29, 2003 | Health authorities in the U.S. have issued a warning about asthma drug Serevent.

The Food and Drug Administration says some patients using the medication could face life-threatening complications. The person could have trouble breathing and may require intubation the insertion of a tube into the throat forcing open the airways.

Officials say the problems are rare and that the drug's benefits outweigh the risks.

Serevent is also used in Canada but Health Canada hasn't issued a warning. It was approved for use in 1994.

Patients are encouraged to talk to their doctors if they are using Serevent.

Serevent is an aerosol spray made by GlaxoSmithKline. Patients use it twice a day to prevent asthma attacks.

Glaxo started a study looking at the number of asthma-related deaths in patients taking the drug. The 28-week study involved 26,000 patients.

Researchers found a greater risk of problems and death among black patients.

They said deaths were less common among those who use a companion drug, corticosterioids, which controls inflammation. Black patients were less likely to be using the companion drug and were at risk of having lung problems and more likely to die than white patients.

Glaxo would not reveal the number of people who had died.

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