Professor Richard Beasley
Director, Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, Wellington, NZ
Richard Beasley is the Director of the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand. He was formerly the Deputy Chair of the Health Research Council of New Zealand. His research interests are primarily in the field of clinical trials.
The Second New Zealand Asthma Mortality Epidemic
In a programme of epidemiological studies the specific beta agonist drug fenoterol was identified as the major cause of the second asthma mortality epidemic in New Zealand. In a parallel programme of laboratory-based clinical studies, pharmacological properties of fenoterol that may have contributed to the increased risk of mortality associated with its use were studied. Findings from these research programmes led to the restriction of fenoterol from New Zealand, a regulatory move that resulted in a two-thirds reduction in the asthma mortality rate within one year. This research led to a major reconsideration of the safety of beta agonist drugs and contributed significantly to the formulation of international guidelines for the recommended use of beta agonist drugs in the treatment of asthma.