Singulair Does Not Help Most Children Stop Wheezing: Study

Singulair may not prevent wheezing episodes among children who use the popular asthma medication, according to the findings of new research. 

In a study published in the medical journal The Lancet, British researchers found that children who took Singulair experienced no improvement in wheezing episodes when compared to children who were given a placebo during the same trial.

Researchers from the Queen Mary University of London studied children aged 10 months to five years from October 1, 2010, to December 20, 2013, during the Wheeze and Intermittent Treatment (WAIT) trial.

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The study was a multi-center randomized placebo controlled trial involving nearly 1,400 children conducted at 21 primary care sites and 41 secondary care sites in England and Scotland.

Children were given intermittent Singulair or placebo administered by their parents at each wheezing episode over a 12 month period.

Dr. Jonathan Grigg, lead author of the study, and the team of researchers found giving children the drug at the onset of wheezing did not reduce unscheduled medical visits for emergency respiratory episodes when compared to the children in the placebo group.

Singulair was found to increase the time between hospital admissions for emergency wheezing visits, but did not change the rate or number of visits needed.

It did alleviate wheezing episodes in some children with a specific genetic mutation; for others, there was no benefit. The children with the 5/5 ALOX5 promoter genotype experienced a 20% reduction in wheezing attacks that required a trip to the hospital.

Children who used Singulair also received fewer courses of rescue oral corticosteroids. However the medication did not reduce the proportion of children receiving at least one course of rescue medications.

Overall the number and duration of wheezing episodes did not differ between the two groups. Researchers concluded the data does not support routine use of intermittent singulair for wheezing in kids 10 months to five years old.

Singulair Health Concerns

Singulair is an asthma medication developed by Merck & Co. It is part of a class of drugs known as leukotriene receptor blockers. It is the third-most prescribed brand name drug in the United States.

Prior studies have revealed other concerning findings regarding the popular asthma medication. Last year, consumer watchdog group Public Citizen placed Singulair on their “Do Not Use” list.

The group said research had shown Singulair caused nightmares and other psychiatric side effects, including insomnia and hallucinations, especially among children. The group went as far to say the asthma drug provides minimal benefits and recommends consumers refrain from taking the medication.

Earlier this year, Public Citizen urged the FDA to ban the over-the-counter sale of Singulair Allergy, a drug proposed by Merck in May. According research conducted by the group, Singulair Allergy had minimal benefits, but poses potentially serious health risks.

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