AstraZeneca’s Novel START trial for its Symbicort Turbuhaler (budesonide/formoterol) demonstrated a reduction in the rate of asthma attacks in patients with mild asthma, compared to common therapies.

The trial results, published in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’, compared Symbicort Turbuhaler with two commonly used treatment regimens in mild asthma and reflected real-world practice.

In real-world practice, patients typically use a short-acting beta2-agonist (SABA) reliever in response to symptoms or daily low-dose inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) maintenance therapy with a SABA reliever.

In this trial, patients with mild asthma were randomised to receive either albuterol (a SABA reliever) taken as-needed, or budesonide (an ICS maintenance treatment) plus albuterol as-needed, or Symbicort Turbuhaler used as an anti-inflammatory reliever therapy taken as-needed.

The results showed a a 51% reduction in the rate of annual asthma exacerbations compared to albuterol, with no difference in the exacerbation rate between Symbicort Turbuhaler and twice-daily maintenance budesonide plus albuterol, despite a 52% reduction in the mean steroid dose with Symbicort Turbuhaler.

There are an estimated “176 million asthma attacks globally each year and all asthma patients, regardless of their disease severity, are at risk of severe attacks,” explained Alex de Giorgio-Miller, therapy area vice president, Respiratory, Global Medical Affairs.

He continued, “The Novel START trial demonstrates the effectiveness of Symbicort as an anti-inflammatory reliever to reduce the risk of asthma attacks in patients with mild disease, compared with the most commonly used asthma reliever. In a trial that reflects real-world practice, these data reinforce evidence from the SYGMA trials and build on the established clinical profile of Symbicort in moderate-to-severe disease.”

The Novel START trial was conducted by the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand and was funded by a research grant from AstraZeneca and core institutional funding from the Health Research Council of New Zealand.