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Thursday, May 28, 2009

New drug combo may greatly benefit COPDers

I had an uncle with COPD call me about a year ago because he wanted to learn ways he could improve his lung function. Basically, I gave him three recommendations off the top of my head:

1. Stop smoking
2. Stay as active as you possibly can
3. Take all your lung medicines exactly as prescribed
4. Talk to your doctor about Spiriva.

I told him I had read about studies that proved Spiriva improved lung function in COPD patients. He heeded my advice, but he passed away before I could talk to him about how it worked for him.

A new study released this past month shows not only does Spiriva improve lung function in COPD patients, if it is used in conjunction with Symbicort. According to an article at, the combination of Spiriva plus budesonide/formoterol combination (the contents of Symbicort):
  • Reduced the rate of severe exacerbations by 62% (p<0.001)2
  • Improved clinical lung function as measured by improvement in pre and post dose FEV1 (p<0.001,>
  • Improved morning symptoms and activities (p<0.05)
  • Improved health-related quality of life
  • Was well tolerated

Typically, according to the above article, a combination of a long acting bronchodilator and corticosteroid and Spiriva is indicated in any COPD patient with a lung function (FEV1) of less than 50%.

So this is all the more reason to keep in touch with the latest research. If your doctor is unaware of this study, perhaps you'll want to nudge him.

However, keep in mind this is just one study, although one that showed significant improvements in lung function with those taking the trio of medications compared to those who received a placebo.

While there is no cure for COPD, the goal of therapy is to make sure all COPD patients are able to remain productive members of society. Aside from avoiding cigarette smoke and staying active, new medicines can help COPD patients accomplish the goal of maintaining a quality of life.

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