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Comparison and optimal use of fixed combinations in the management of COPD

Authors Mirjam Mensing, René Aalbers

Published 15 July 2007 Volume 2007:2(2) Pages 107—116

Mirjam Mensing, René Aalbers

Department of pulmonolgy, Martini Hospital, Groningen, The Netherlands

Abstract: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Indications for the use of long-acting β2-agonists (LABAs) and inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) in patients with COPD are described in the various international guidelines, but no special recommendations are made concerning the use of combination inhalers containing a LABA as well as an ICS. To determine the place of combination inhalers in the treatment of COPD we reviewed recent literature concerning this subject. On molecular level ICS/LABA combination therapy has anti-inflammatory properties which cannot be attributed to ICS alone. All clinical studies indicate that the two available combinations (salmeterol/fluticasone and formoterol/budesonide) significantly reduce exacerbation rate of moderate/severe exacerbations when compared with placebo. Some studies also showed a significant reduction in exacerbation rate compared with LABA monotherapy, but not compared with ICS monotherapy. From the patient’s perspective, ICS/LABA combination inhalers are the first choice when both need to be prescribed, possibly improving patient compliance for ICS. Currently little evidence is available to predict if flexible treatment with LABA/ICS combination inhalers will improve disease control in COPD. Further studies are needed to elucidate the clinical benefit of combination inhalers versus the individual components in different inhalers, and to investigate the clinical benefit of flexible dosing of combination inhalers in patients with COPD.

Keywords: COPD, long-acting β2-agonists, inhaled corticosteroids.

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