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The authors regret to inform you that they have retracted the manuscript, Prescribing of β-adrenoceptor antagonists in asthma: an observational study,1 from publication in Thorax due to concerns over the reliability of the oral steroid outcome following a new β-blocker prescription. One of the aims of this observational study was to determine the relative incidence of asthma patients prescribed oral steroids immediately following a new oral β-blocker using prescriptions over a 2-year observation period. A new β-blocker was defined when patients received β-blocker prescriptions for the first time following a pre-exposure period of 114 days in order to reduce the possibility of patients receiving earlier prescriptions out with our 2-year window.
However, upon completion of a follow-up study using the same dataset, concerns were raised over completeness of β-blocker prescription data during the first year of the observation period. This has subsequently been checked with the data provider resulting in a significant proportion of patients previously defined as having received a 'new' prescription actually having received β-blocker therapy at an earlier date. The original analysis has therefore been performed using patients with a mixture of new and repeat β-blocker prescriptions and given the potentially opposing effects of acute and chronic β-blocker therapy in asthma, this pooled analysis is difficult to interpret.
The prevalence of β-blocker prescribing in asthma (including descriptions of average doses and numbers of repeat prescriptions) remain accurate but are representative of the second year of observation only. We are currently looking to clarify the effect of new β-blocker prescribing in relation to the use of oral steroids by obtaining data over a longer period of observation. In this way, we will be able to identify patients who are prescribed new β-blocker prescriptions more accurately.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.