W.O. Spitzer, S. Suissa, P. Ernst, R.I. Horwitz, B. Habbick, D. Cockcroft, J.-F. Boivin, M. McNutt, A.S. Buist, A.S. Rebuck, "The use of bETA-agonists and the risk of death and near death from asthma," New England Journal of Medicine, 326:501-6, 1992.

Samy Suissa (Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McGill University, Montreal): "Asthma is a common disease that affects 5 percent to 10 percent of people. Numerous effective medications have been developed to treat this disease, by way of either bronchodilation or inflammation reduction.

"In the 1980s, the mainstay of asthma therapy was based on bronchodilators, which included theophyllines and b- agonists. Extremely effective, these latter drugs were used rather liberally, to the point at which they were available without prescription in some countries. Unexpected increases in asthma mortality in several parts of the world have induced investigations of the possible role of drug therapies in these mortality patterns.

"In 1989,...

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