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Methylxanthines in the Treatment of Asthma: The Rise, the Fall, and the Possible Rise Again

E. R. McFadden Jr., MD
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Requests for Reprints: E. R. McFadden, Jr., MD, Airway Disease Center, University Hospitals of Cleveland, 2074 Abington Road, Cleveland, OH 44106.

University Hospitals of Cleveland
Cleveland, OH 44106

Ann Intern Med. 1991;115(4):323-324. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-115-4-323
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In recent years, asthma therapy has undergone substantial revision in both concept and pharmacologic approach. Two decades ago, the available anti-asthma drugs included only bronchodilators; hence, therapeutic options were limited. One could only treat the clinical manifestations of the disease by either prescribing medications on an as-needed basis to reverse acute episodes of obstruction as they developed or attempting to limit the severity of recurrences by repetitively administering treatment during the day of the episode. Of the three classes of agents then on the market (methylxanthines, anticholinergics, and adrenergic agonists), the methylxanthines were best suited to this approach. These drugs,


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