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Aerosolized antibiotic therapy for chronic cystic fibrosis airway infections: continuous or intermittent?

Respiratory Medicine, pages S9 - S17


The use of inhaled therapies for chronic respiratory infections in cystic fibrosis represents a substantive treatment burden to patients. In this paper, we review the evidence supporting two commonly used inhaled antibiotic regimens for chronic respiratory infections – continuous vs. intermittent (28 days on followed by 28 days off) therapy. We included trials of good methodological quality and excluded those in which the primary intent was eradication. In total, we included 13 trials (5 of intermittent therapy and 8 of continuous therapy) and summarized their main findings, placing particular emphasis on change in FEV1, emergence of resistance and patient adherence. What is evident from our review is that both continuous and intermittent inhaled therapies work. Although an intermittent regimen would be intuitively “better” in terms of cost savings and patient tolerability, there is currently a lack of head-to-head trials that compare the same drugs (and dosages) using the two different regimens to make such a recommendation based on robust clinical evidence.

Keywords: Cystic fibrosis, Aerosolized antibiotics, Continuous therapy, Intermittent therapy, Randomized, controlled trials (RCTs), FEV1.


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a Division of Child Health, School of Clinical Sciences, Queens Medical Center, Nottingham, UK

b Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH, USA

c Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA

d Division of Human Development (Child Health), School of Clinical Sciences, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK

* Corresponding author. Alan Smyth, Professor of Child Health, Division of Child Health, School of Clinical Sciences, University of Nottingham, NG7 2UH, UK