Comparison of orally administered metaproterenol and theophylline in the control of chronic asthma

Paul S. Lietman, Lois Dusdieker, Michael Green, Gary D. Smith, Edem E. Ekwo, Miles Weinberger

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23 Scopus citations


The efficacy of metaproterenol (orciprénaline) and theophylline given orally at currently recommended doses was examined in 34 children with chronic asthma using a randomized double-blind cross-over evaluation of four weeks' duration for each active regimen. No serious adverse effects were seen with either medication, but tremor occurred more frequently with metaproterenol (P<0.01). No significant differences were observed in the frequency of nausea, vomiting, headache, or insomnia (P>0.05). Symptoms of wheezing, coughing, exercise intolerance, and interference with sleep were more frequently associated with the oral metaproterenol regimen; completely asymptomatic days occurred 50% more frequently in association with theophylline therapy (P<0.01). Mean peak flows, performed twice daily during each of the four-week study periods, were 86 and 92% of predicted for metaproterenol and theophylline, respectively (P<0.05). Pulmonary function decreased significantly less with theophylline than with metaproterenol among those who completed six minutes of treadmill exercise during both regimens (P<0.05). Corticosteroids, used for acute symptoms that failed to respond to the addition of inhaled metaproterenol, were required in four patients during both regimens, in ten patients only during the metaproterenol regimen, and in one patient only during the theophylline regimen (P<0.02). Thus, theophylline therapy was associated with fewer adverse effects, fewer symptoms of asthma, better pulmonary function, better exercise tolerance, and less requirements for corticosteroids than was treatment with metaproterenol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-287
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of pediatrics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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