Background: national and international asthma guidelines recommend adjusting asthma treatment based on levels of control, yet no guidance is given regarding the stepping-down of montelukast in children and young people (CYP).
Objective: to systematically review evidence regarding deprescribing montelukast in CYP with established asthma.
Design: systematic review.
Data sources: Embase, Medline, PubMed and CINAHL were searched up to October 2020.
Study selection: eligible studies contained patients aged 0-18 years with a diagnosis of asthma, who had been administering montelukast before it was withdrawn. All reasons for withdrawal were included.
Results: the search identified 197 papers. After deduplication, five papers were included (three randomized control studies and two cohort studies). Four studies observed the impact of montelukast withdrawal for 2 weeks, and one study for 8 weeks. The impact of withdrawal was measured in the studies using a combination of lung tests (e.g., forced expiratory volume in 1 s [FEV1], fractional exhaled nitric oxide [FeNO]), asthma scoring methods and exercise challenges. Of the 17 domains in the Core Outcome Set for Clinical Trials in Childhood Asthma, eight outcomes were measured in at least one of the five studies, with all five studies measuring the outcome of ‘Lung Function’. No significant differences were found between the montelukast and placebo groups following montelukast withdrawal. Significant differences between the comparator points within the test group were found in nine outcomes across four studies; FEV1/forced vital capacity, FEV1, forced expiratory flows (25-75%), asthma score (study specific), maximum% fall in FEV1 and time to recovery (post exercise) significantly decreased whereas FEV1/bronchodilator response, FeNO and eNO significantly increased.
Conclusion: only limited, contradictory and short-term effects of deprescribing montelukast in CYP with established asthma are presented in literature. Definitive studies determining clinical stability, and impact of deprescribing montelukast in CYP are imperative to improve the safety of asthma treatment in CYP.