This study was designed to compare the efficacy and safety of a new inhaled corticosteroid, fluticasone propionate at a total daily dose of 200 micrograms, with beclomethasone dipropionate 400 micrograms/day in childhood asthma. A total of 398 asthmatic children (aged 4-19 years) were randomised to receive either fluticasone propionate 200 micrograms daily or beclomethasone dipropionate 400 micrograms daily for six weeks inhaled via a spacer device from a metered dose inhaler. During the study the patients recorded morning and evening peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), symptom scores, and use of beta 2 agonist rescue medication. In addition, clinic visit PEFR and forced expiratory volume in one second were measured. Safety was assessed by recording all adverse events and by performing routine biochemistry and haematology screens including plasma cortisol concentration before and after treatment. For the purposes of analysis the diary card data were grouped into three periods: week 3 (days 15-21), week 6 (days 36-42), and weeks 1-6 (days 1-42). The results showed no significant difference between treatments on most efficacy parameters. However, there were significant differences in changes from baseline in favour of fluticasone propionate for % predicted morning PEFR both at week 3 (fluticasone propionate 6.1%, beclomethasone dipropionate 3.9%) and at week 6 (fluticasone propionate 8.3%, beclomethasone dipropionate 5. 9%) and % predicted evening PEFR at week 6 (fluticasone propionate 7.3%, beclomethasone dipropionate 4.9% and over weeks 1-6 (fluticasone propionate 5.5%, beclomethasone dipropionate 3.6%. Comparison between groups showed that the group receiving fluticasone propionate had a lower % of days with symptom-free exercise at week 6 (fluticasone propionate 87%, beclomethasone dipropionate 81%) and % days without rescue medication at week 6 (fluticasone propionate 87%, beclomethasone dipropionate 80%) and over weeks 1-6 (fluticasone propionate 80%, beclomethasone dipropionate 73%). Except for a higher incidence of sore throat in the fluticasone propionate group, the two treatments did not differ with regard to safety. There was no evidence of adrenal suppression with either treatment. In conclusion, fluticasone propionate 200 microgram daily ws at least as effective and as well tolerated as beclomethasone dipropionate 400 microgram daily in childhood asthma.
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