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Independents' Day

New drug hope for child asthma

A leukotriene receptor antagonist is substantially better than inhaled steroids for controlling symptoms in children with mild asthma, a study of UK general practice concludes.

The GP researchers said they expected a 'dramatic' increase in prescribing of montelukast, marketed as Singulair, which they said was currently under-used in primary care.

Their study ­ presented at this week's International Primary Care Respiratory Group conference in Oslo ­ found 58 per cent of children taking montelukast were successfully treated, but only 33 per cent of those on inhaled steroids were.

The new evidence came as the UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency granted the drug an extended licence, approving its use as an alternative to low-dose inhaled steroids in ages two to 14.

Professor David Price, a researcher on the study and professor of primary care respiratory medicine at the University of Aberdeen, said: 'For mild disease it is underused and will increase dramatically. '

Professor Price, a GP in Norfolk who is conducting a Health Technology Assessment on the drug for the NHS, added: 'We have to be careful we don't use it inappropriately.'

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