Drug combination better than LABA's alone

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Drug Combination Better than LABAs Alone for COPD

A new study shows that COPD combination therapy is linked to better outcomes than newly prescribed LABAs alone, especially for patients who also have asthma.

Written by Stacey Feintuch | Published on September 16, 2014 A A A

Drug Combination Better than LABAs Alone for COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a manageable respiratory condition, but it is also the third-leading cause of death in the United States. To get the best outcome, it’s helpful to know which prescription medications are most effective.

Long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs) are medications that relax the muscles around the airways, letting a patient breathe more easily. Inhaled corticosteroids help treat inflammation in the airways, and only small amounts of the medicine are absorbed into the body.

Now, a new study shows that newly prescribed LABAs and an inhaled corticosteroid combination therapy work better in older adults with COPD than newly prescribed LABAs alone.

COPD combination therapy was linked to a significantly lower risk of COPD hospitalization and death, according to the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Combination therapy was also tied to better results for people with asthma.

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LABAs Versus Combination Therapy

Researchers led by Dr. Andrea S. Gershon of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, Canada compared combination therapy to treatment with just LABAs in older people who had COPD and other breathing illnesses such as asthma.

The study included all Ontario residents ages 66 and older who had COPD and were new users of LABAs or a LABA combination therapy from September 2003 to March 2011. There were 3,160 users of just LABAs and 8,712 new users of LABAs and inhaled corticosteroids. They were followed for an average of 2.5 years and 2.7 years, respectively.

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Findings Pave the Way for New Treatment Guidelines

LABAs and inhaled corticosteroids together were associated with a lower risk of death or hospitalization than LABAs alone.

Of the 5,594 new users of LABAs and inhaled corticosteroids, 36.4 percent died and 27.8 percent were hospitalized during the study period. Meanwhile, among new users of just LABAs, 37.3 percent died and 30.1 percent were hospitalized.

“For people with COPD, these study findings might lead to a change in their medication, depending on their circumstances,” Gershon told Healthline. “Time will tell if they pave the path for treatment guidelines, but I believe they have the potential to do so.”

Those who had COPD and asthma and those who weren’t also taking an inhaled long-acting anticholinergic medication for COPD were at the greatest disadvantage if they were prescribed LABAs alone. Anticholinergics are a class of drugs that block the action of the neurotransmitter chemical acetylcholine in the brain.

Gershon told Healthline that these findings should be confirmed in randomized clinical trials before being applied to patient care.

“However, until that is done, they offer important new knowledge that physicians can use to determine the best care for their patients,” Gershon said.

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3 Replies

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  • I think the problem may be that there is no such disease as COPD. People have chronic bronchitis. People have emphysema. People have a combination of the two. Some also have asthma. Some have other disesases which may or may not impact on COPD. And THAT is why we are all so different. I can't actually take any of the inhalers due to a missing enzyme in my liver. But I am getting tired of reading foreign articles about death percentages.

    "Of the 5,594 new users of LABAs and inhaled corticosteroids, 36.4 percent died and 27.8 percent were hospitalized during the study period. Meanwhile, among new users of just LABAs, 37.3 percent died and 30.1 percent were hospitalized."

    It is frightening, depressing and totally unnecessary.

  • True COPD is an umbrella term meaning any serious chest condition as you pointed out the two main ones with a possibility of the third but there is also the added complication of a bronchiectasis or atrial fibrillation. I am sorry if my post offended you in anyway whatsoever next time I will think before passing on useful material you have to give it to the Americans they are and always will be streets ahead of us in health care.

  • Not offended, ant. Just a little tired of statistics. There was a post the other day, thankfully deleted, which was just as depressing. I know I am dying without having my nose rubbed in it! No offence taken or intended - just giving my viewpoint.

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