Dapsone as an oral corticosteroid sparing agent for asthma

Some asthma sufferers rely on oral corticosteroids to control their disease. Corticosteroids help reduce the inflammation of the airways associated with asthma. Long-term use of these drugs has serious side effects, so other ways to reduce the need for corticosteroids are sometimes tried. Dapsone does have anti-inflammatory properties, and may have an effect on asthma symptoms and steroid doses taken. However, this review found that there was no evidence for or against the use of dapsone in the treatment of corticosteroid-dependent asthmatic patients. More research is needed.

Authors' conclusions: 

No randomised controlled trials have been published, so there is no reliable evidence to show whether dapsone is beneficial or otherwise in the management of steroid-dependent asthmatic patients. There is a need for well designed randomised controlled trials to be performed. These must be carried out double-blind, since oral corticosteroid reduction requires a judgement on the part of the physician, who may be open to bias if the treatment allocation is known.

Read the full abstract...

Oral corticosteroids are used as a treatment for asthma, however they are often associated with serious side effects. Dapsone is a sulfone with anti-inflammatory properties, therefore it may have a beneficial effect in the treatment of asthma and act as a corticosteroid-sparing agent.


The objective of this review is to assess the safety and efficacy of adding dapsone to oral corticosteroids in adults with stable asthma who are dependent on oral corticosteroids with the intention of eventually minimizing or eliminating the use of these steroids.

Search strategy: 

We searched the Cochrane Airways Group Specialised Register and reference lists of potential articles. Date of last search: February 2011

Selection criteria: 

Randomised controlled trials investigating the addition of dapsone compared to placebo in stable corticosteroid dependent asthmatics.

Data collection and analysis: 

No trials were found that met the selection criteria.

Main results: 

No meta-analyses could be performed.