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The use of beta agonists and the risk of death and near death from asthma

  • Neil Pearce
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author. Centre for Public Health Research, Massey University Wellington Campus, Private Box 756, Wellington, New Zealand. Tel.: +64-4-3800-606; fax: +64-4-3800-600.
    Affiliations
    Centre for Public Health Research, Massey University Wellington Campus, Wellington, New Zealand
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      In the late 1980s, together with other colleagues in Wellington, New Zealand, I conducted a series of case–control studies [
      • Crane J.
      • Pearce N.
      • Flatt A.
      • Burgess C.
      • Jackson R.
      • Kwong T.
      • et al.
      Prescribed fenoterol and death from asthma in New Zealand, 1981-83: case-control study.
      ,
      • Pearce N.
      • Grainger J.
      • Atkinson M.
      • Crane J.
      • Burgess C.
      • Culling C.
      • et al.
      Case-control study of prescribed fenoterol and death from asthma in New Zealand, 1977-81.
      ,
      • Grainger J.
      • Woodman K.
      • Pearce N.
      • Crane J.
      • Burgess C.
      • Keane A.
      • et al.
      Prescribed fenoterol and death from asthma in New Zealand, 1981-7: a further case-control study.
      ], which indicated that the use of inhaled fenoterol was associated with an increased risk of death from asthma. The findings were of potential public health importance, because there was an epidemic of asthma deaths in New Zealand, which we attributed to the high market share for fenoterol [
      • Pearce N.
      • Crane J.
      • Burgess C.
      • Jackson R.
      • Beasley R.
      Beta agonists and asthma mortality: deja vu.
      ]; fenoterol had similar pharmacological properties as isoprenaline forte, which had caused asthma mortality epidemics in six countries (including New Zealand) in the 1960s [
      • Stolley P.D.
      Why the United States was spared an epidemic of deaths due to asthma.
      ].
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