Article Text

Download PDFPDF
β-Adrenergic bronchodilators and sudden death in asthmatics


Deaths from asthma greatly increased in Britain between 1961 and 1967. Over the same period the use of pressurised aerosols containing β-stimulants (usually isoprenaline) also increased greatly and it was suggested that the use of such aerosols contributed to the increase in mortality.1 2 Then in 1967 the Committee on Safety of Drugs issued a warning notice and in 1968 the supply of aerosols, previously available over the counter, was restricted to prescription only. From 1967 the death rate fell rapidly, although the use of β-stimulant aerosols showed only a modest decrease.3 This decline in mortality began to occur before the widespread use of bronchodilator aerosols such as isoetharine, salbutamol and terbutaline, which are relatively selective for the β-adrenoceptors of the lungs, before the development of aerosols of locally active corticosteroids, and before disodium cromoglycate was widely used. Moreover in younger patients mortality is still a little higher than it was before the epidemic.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.