The use of a short course of oral corticosteroids (OCS), or "steroid burst," is standard practice in the outpatient management of acute severe exacerbations of asthma. Despite published guidelines, the actual practice patterns are unknown. A Web-based survey about typical patterns of OCS administration and total steroid burst dose was administered to pulmonologists (n = 150), allergists (n = 150), primary care physicians (n = 153), and pediatricians (n = 150). No predominant dosing regimen was observed, although a fixed single daily dose was the most commonly prescribed regimen (59%). The majority of physicians treating patients ≥12 years of age prescribed a total burst dose of ≤200 mg and essentially all (%) prescribed ≤600 mg. Among physicians treating younger children, approximately one-quarter prescribed ≤1 mg/kg per day for 3 days (% for children aged 5-11 years of age and % for children aged <5 years, respectively) and essentially all prescribed ≤2 mg/kg per day for 10 days (% for children aged 5-11 years and 100% for children aged <5 years of age). When prescribing OCS burst therapy for asthma exacerbations, physicians tend to prescribe less than the upper dose recommended in the guidelines; with many physicians prescribing a total steroid burst dose below the lower end of the recommended dose range. Additional study is needed to determine the optimal dose and duration for treating exacerbations of asthma with OCS to minimize both side effects and time to reestablishing asthma control.
Methotrexate is given weekly as an intramuscular injection of 15 to 25 mg. Side effects are rare and include leukopenia and hypersensitivity interstitial pneumonitis. Hepatic fibrosis is the most severe potential sequela of long-term therapy. Patients with concomitant alcohol abuse and/or morbid obesity are more likely to develop hepatic fibrosis and therefore should not be treated with methotrexate. It is prudent to obtain a baseline chest radiograph and to monitor complete blood count, liver function and renal function every two weeks until the patient is receiving oral therapy, and every one to three months thereafter. Before methotrexate therapy is initiated, the risks of treatment and the possible need for a liver biopsy should be discussed with the patient.
Corticosteroids have been used as drug treatment for some time. Lewis Sarett of Merck & Co. was the first to synthesize cortisone, using a complicated 36-step process that started with deoxycholic acid, which was extracted from ox bile .  The low efficiency of converting deoxycholic acid into cortisone led to a cost of US $200 per gram. Russell Marker , at Syntex , discovered a much cheaper and more convenient starting material, diosgenin from wild Mexican yams . His conversion of diosgenin into progesterone by a four-step process now known as Marker degradation was an important step in mass production of all steroidal hormones, including cortisone and chemicals used in hormonal contraception .  In 1952, . Peterson and . Murray of Upjohn developed a process that used Rhizopus mold to oxidize progesterone into a compound that was readily converted to cortisone.  The ability to cheaply synthesize large quantities of cortisone from the diosgenin in yams resulted in a rapid drop in price to US $6 per gram, falling to $ per gram by 1980. Percy Julian's research also aided progress in the field.  The exact nature of cortisone's anti-inflammatory action remained a mystery for years after, however, until the leukocyte adhesion cascade and the role of phospholipase A2 in the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes was fully understood in the early 1980s.