Combo Therapy May Be Best for COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients responded best to corticosteroids combined with beta agonists

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) A therapy including two types of inhaled medication could be the best treatment for COPD, a smoking-related condition that affects millions in the US each year.

COPD progressively makes breathing harder. It’s the third leading cause of death in the US, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Asthma, a chronic condition that narrows airways, can complicate COPD treatment.

In a recent study, Canadian scientists found lower rates of COPD-related death and hospitalization in patients using the two types of medicine instead of just one.

"Quit smoking to avoid lung problems."

Andrea Gershon, MD, led the study, which looked into the effectiveness of combination therapy in treating patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Dr. Gershon and colleagues tested long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs) used in conjunction with an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS). They compared patients using the combo therapy with patients using only LABAs.

“Our finding of an association between LABAs and ICSs and outcomes helps clarify the management of patients with COPD and asthma,” the authors wrote.

The authors studied 8,712 patients with COPD on the combo therapy and 3,160 just using LABAs.

Of the group just using LABAs, 1,179 (37.3 percent) died and 950 (30.1 percent) went to the hospital for COPD-related issues in the roughly 2.5-year median follow-up time.

In the group using combo therapy, there were 3,174 (36.4 percent) deaths and 2,420 (27.8 percent) COPD-related hospitalizations.

The authors found a “modest but significantly lower risk” of death or hospitalization in the group using combo therapy. They suggested that the combo therapy “be considered first-line treatment.”

The study was published online Sept. 16 in JAMA.

The research was funded by the Physicians’ Services Incorporated Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the government of Ontario. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 12, 2014
Last Updated:
September 16, 2014