Skip Navigation Archive: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Archive: Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archival print banner

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

Children's Use of Asthma Controller Drugs Doubles

AHRQ News and Numbers, October 12, 2011

AHRQ News and Numbers provides statistical highlights on the use and cost of health services and health insurance in the United States.

The proportion of children who used a prescribed controller drug to treat their asthma doubled from 29 percent in 1997-1998 to 58 percent in 2007-2008, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Asthma controller drugs, such as corticosteroids, control inflammation thereby reducing the likelihood of airway spasms; asthma reliever drugs, such as short-acting beta-2-agonists, make breathing easier; and leukotrienes help prevent asthma symptoms from occurring.

AHRQ also found that during the 1997-1998 and 2007-2008 timeframes:

  • Use of inhaled corticosteroids, a type of controller drug increased from 15.5 percent to 40 percent. Use of other controller drugs also increased: beta agonists (from 3 percent to 13 percent); and leukotriene (from 3 percent to 34 percent).
  • Use of reliever and oral corticosteroid drugs declined from 44 percent to 30 percent and from 17 percent to 9 percent, respectively.
  • Average annual total spending for all asthma drugs more than quadrupled from $527 million to $2.5 billion. Specifically, spending for controller drugs grew from $280 million to $2.1 billion and for reliever drugs, the increase was $222 million to $352 million (all in 2008 dollars).
  • Spending for oral corticosteroids fell from $25 million to $8 million (2008 dollars).

The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid. For more information, go to Statistical Brief #341: Changes in Children's Use and Expenditures for Asthma Medications, United States, 1997-1998 to 2007-2008.

For more information, contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of October 2011
Internet Citation: Children's Use of Asthma Controller Drugs Doubles: AHRQ News and Numbers, October 12, 2011. October 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care