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INTRODUCTION: Even though increased use of reliever medication, including short-acting beta agonists (SABA), provides an indirect measure of symptom worsening, there have been limited efforts to assess how different patterns of reliever use correlate with symptom control and future risk of exacerbations. Here, we evaluate the effect of individual baseline characteristics on reliever use in patients with moderate-severe asthma on regular maintenance therapy with fluticasone propionate (FP) or combination therapy with fluticasone propionate/salmeterol (FP/SAL) or budesonide/formoterol (BUD/FOR). METHODS: A drug-disease model describing the number of 24-h puffs and overnight occasions was developed with data from five clinical studies (N = 6212). The model was implemented using a nonlinear mixed effects approach and a Poisson function, considering clinical and demographic baseline characteristics. Goodness of fit and model predictive performance were assessed. Heatmaps were created to summarise the effect of concurrent baseline factors on reliever utilisation. RESULTS: The final model accurately described individual patterns of reliever use, which is significantly increased with time since diagnosis, smoking, higher Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ-5) score and higher body mass index (BMI) at baseline. Whilst the number of puffs decreases slowly after an initial drop relative to the start of treatment, exacerbating patients utilise significantly more reliever than those who do not exacerbate. The mean effect of FP/SAL (median dose: 250/50 μg BID) on reliever use was slightly higher than that of BUD/FOR (median dose: 160/4.5 μg BID), i.e. a 75.3% vs 69.3% reduction in reliever use, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The availability of individual-level patient data in conjunction with a parametric approach enabled the characterisation of interindividual differences in the patterns of reliever use in patients with moderate-severe asthma. Taken together, individual demographic and clinical characteristics, as well as exacerbation history, can be considered an indicator of the degree of asthma control. High SABA reliever use suggests suboptimal clinical management of patients on maintenance therapy.

Original publication




Journal article


Adv Ther

Publication Date





1201 - 1225


Asthma symptom control, Drug-disease modelling, Exacerbation, ICS/LABA combination therapy, Inhaled corticosteroids, Reliever medication, Rescue medication, SABA, Short-acting beta agonists, Humans, Administration, Inhalation, Anti-Asthmatic Agents, Asthma, Bronchodilator Agents, Budesonide, Formoterol Fumarate Drug Combination, Drug Combinations, Fluticasone, Formoterol Fumarate, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic