Roflumilast for asthma: Efficacy findings in non-placebo-controlled comparator and dosing studies Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Roflumilast, a phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor, has an established place in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Its potential role as a treatment for asthma is unclear. AIM: We report the results from seven double-blind, parallel group, phase II or III studies designed to compare roflumilast with two anti-inflammatory treatments, beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP) and montelukast, in patients with asthma. METHODS: The studies of 6-12 week duration were conducted at 309 sites in Europe, North America, South Africa and Australia from 1998 to 2005. Data from 3802 patients, aged 12-70 years who received either roflumilast 100 μg, 250 μg or 500 μg once daily, BDP 400 μg or 500 μg twice daily, or 10 mg montelukast once daily was analyzed. Primary endpoints were mean change and time averaged excess area under the curve in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) over the duration of the study. Secondary endpoints included change in forced vital capacity and peak expiratory flow, asthma symptoms and the concomitant use of rescue medication. RESULTS: Roflumilast was non-inferior to BDP and montelukast and consistently increased FEV1. Use of rescue medication and all asthma symptom scores decreased significantly with all treatments, but no statistically significant between-group differences were observed. Secondary lung function endpoints generally supported the conclusions of the primary outcome measure. CONCLUSIONS: Roflumilast improves FEV1 and asthma symptoms in patients with mild to moderate asthma, and is non-inferior compared with both BDP and montelukast. It deserves further study as a potentially effective anti-inflammatory treatment for asthma.


  • Bateman, ED
  • Bousquet, J
  • Aubier, M
  • Bredenbröker, D
  • O'Byrne, Paul

publication date

  • December 2015