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Combination therapy slows lung function decline in COPD patients

By Lilian Anekwe

Prescribing a long-acting beta agonist in combination with an inhaled corticosteroid slows the progression of lung disease in patients with COPD, new research shows.

COPD patients treated with a combined dose of salmeterol and fluticasone propionate had a significantly lower rate of lung function decline than patients given a placebo.

The manufacturers of the drug, Seretide, claimed the results represented the first time a treatment had been shown to slow the decline in lung function in COPD patients.

To date smoking cessation has been the only intervention that has conclusively been shown to alter the rate of decline in lung function, measured in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1).

Patients prescribed a combined salmeterol 50mcg and fluticasone propionate 500mcg dose daily for 64 months had a slower rate of decline in FEV1 – 39mL per year vs 55mL per year in placebo patients after six months of treatment.

The 16ml annual reduction in the rate of lung function decline seen in patients treated with the combination drugs represented a 50% reduction in the predicted rate of FEV1 decline.

Professor Peter Calverley, professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Liverpool, and lead researcher, said: ‘The data from the study provides the first clear evidence that treatment of symptomatic COPD patients with long acting beta agonists and/or inhaled corticosteroids slows the progression of the disease.'

The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, is a post-hoc analysis of the TORCH study of 6,112 patients with moderate to severe COPD.

Combination therapies for COPD reduce lung function decline Combination therapies for COPD reduce lung function decline

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