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Study design considerations in a large COPD trial comparing effects of tiotropium with salmeterol on exacerbations

Authors Beeh K, Hederer B, Glaab T, Müller A, Rutten-van Moelken M, Kesten S, Vogelmeier C

Published 26 February 2009 Volume 2009:4 Pages 119—125


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Kai-Michael Beeh1, Bettina Hederer2, Thomas Glaab2, Achim Müller2, Maureen Rutten-van Moelken3, et al

1insaf–Respiratory Research Institute, Wiesbaden, Germany; 2Boehringer Ingelheim, Ingelheim, Germany; 3Institute for Medical Technology Assessment, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, et al

Abstract: Currently available long-acting inhaled bronchodilators (tiotropium, salmeterol, formoterol) have demonstrated beneficial effects on exacerbations in placebo-controlled trials. However, there have been no direct comparisons of these drugs with exacerbations as the primary outcome and consequently COPD treatment guidelines do not indicate a preference for either bronchodilator. Therefore, an international, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, parallelgroup clinical trial has been designed to investigate the comparative efficacy of 2 long-acting bronchodilators tiotropium 18 μg daily and salmeterol 50 μg bid on exacerbations. The trial will include at least 6800 randomized patients with diagnosis of COPD, 10 pack-year history of smoking, post-bronchodilator FEV1 ≤ 70% predicted, and a history of exacerbations in the previous year. The primary endpoint is time to first COPD exacerbation. Secondary endpoints include number of exacerbations and time to premature discontinuation of trial medication. The trial has been designed to address several of the challenges in studying exacerbations in a controlled trial by a symptom and event-based definition of exacerbations, frequent follow-up contacts, selection of time to first event as the primary endpoint and using exposure adjusted analysis when examining number of events. Other challenges in designing exacerbation trials such as differential discontinuation and follow-up of discontinued patients are discussed.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, exacerbation, salmeterol, study methodology, tiotropium

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