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Drug Slows Lung Decline in COPD Patients

Researchers say finding adds new treatment tool to management of pulmonary disease

MONDAY, May 21, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- The drug Advair helps slow lung function decline in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

That's the conclusion of the TORCH (TOwards a Revolution in COPD Health) study scheduled to presented Tuesday at the American Thoracic Society's international conference in San Francisco.

The TORCH findings were first reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in February. The TORCH study was funded by drug maker GlaxoSmithKline.

The study of 6,112 COPD patients from 42 countries found that those treated with Advair (salmeterol/fluticasone propionate) had a slower rate of lung function decline over three years than those who received a placebo -- 39 milliliters vs. 55 milliliters per year.

The study also found that treatment with either the long-acting beta2-agonist salmeterol (Serevent) or the inhaled corticosteroid fluticasone propionate (Flovent) alone also slowed lung function decline better than the placebo. But the decline was smaller than with the Advair treatment.

Patients taking Advair did not have significantly lower death rates than patients taking the placebo.

"Until now, no intervention except smoking cessation has been shown to alter the rate of decline in lung function for patients with COPD. This is the first time that pharmacotherapy has been shown to change the rate of decline in lung function," one of the study authors, Dr. Bartolome R. Celli of St. Elizabeth's Medicine Center in Boston, said in a prepared statement.

The study also found that COPD patients with a low body mass index (BMI) lose more lung function than patients with a higher BMI, and that patients in East Asia and Eastern Europe lost lung function decline at a slower rate than those in the United States or Western Europe. The study didn't examine the possible reasons for the geographic differences.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about COPD.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, May 21, 2007
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