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COPD drugs as cost-effective as statins

Treating COPD with a combination of salmeterol and fluticasone propionate is as cost-effective as using statins to treat heart disease, a study concludes.

It follows research last week claiming the combination was the first intervention other than smoking cessation to slow progression of the disease.

The study of cost-effectiveness found the incremental cost/QALY ratio for the combination treatment versus a placebo was £17,000 – within the NICE threshold for recommendation.

Professor Peter Calverley, one of the paper's authors and professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Liverpool, said: 'I was surprised to see the cost comes out the same as statins. It shows this treatment is much more cost-effective than people imagined.

'I would encourage doctors to consider this treatment option for the right sort of patient, and I think there is a strong possibility this is the sort of evidence NICE will look at when they are next due to review COPD guidelines.'

The study, presented at the American Thoracic Society conference in San Francisco last week, took evidence over three years, assessing the treatment using the EQ-5D instrument and the cost of the drugs in the UK.

Dr Tony Crockett, a GP and hospital practitioner in COPD in Wiltshire, said: 'It's good news. We know this treatment appropriately used leads to a higher quality of life so it's good that it is also cost-effective. It's a win-win situation for patients.'

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