New Asthma Steroid Now Available in the US
Asthma treatment, as with many chronic diseases, is often a matter of trial and error. Experts know that most people with asthma respond best to inhaled steroids, but within that class of drugs, there are many choices.
Now, a new drug has entered the US market — Alvesco® (ciclesonide), from the pharmaceutical company Nycomed. It's an inhaled steroid and is approved by the FDA for use in adults and kids age 12 and older for preventive use. Their advance material claims that it has "novel release and distribution properties".
From a quick glance at their publicity materials, I'm not sure exactly what is so novel about it, but I did see this:
"Ciclesonide is a prodrug that is activated by intracellular esterases following oral inhalation. ALVESCO® has wide inhibitory activities against multiple inflammatory cell types and chemicals involved in the asthmatic response."
Apparently, it's distributed more completely than some other drugs, and that enables once-daily dosing, which is certainly a plus. On their website, they compare it to budesonide (Pulmicort) and fluticasone (Flovent). The effects looked fairly similar to me, when presented in graphical format.
Alvesco also claims fewer side effects than other inhaled steroids, including such common ones as oral thrush and hoarseness.
I'm not sure how different it is from other inhaled steroids, but what's for sure is that it gives doctors another treatment option to try when more familiar options aren't working effectively.
I also noticed in their prescribing information that Alvesco has some sort of dose meter on the dispensing device, which would be a great addition. One of the biggest challenges in using a metered dose inhaler is that it's difficult to tell when an adequate dose is no longer being dispensed in each puff. The only way to know for sure is to keep track of how many puffs you've used.
It doesn't look like Alvesco is quite available here in the US yet; they're still looking for distribution and marketing partners. But, if you're not getting the results you want with your current treatment regime, you might talk with your doctor about the Alvesco option in the future.