Evidence that drugs can slow COPD progress

Believe it or not, a couple of the drugs you see advertised on television for asthma are actually being used in combination with other drugs as a deterrent against the slow but deadly progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). My mother had this difficult disease, and we watched as it progressed over the years into emphysema.

The industry-sponsored study refers to positive results with Advair’s active ingredient (salmeterol) when combined with fluticasone proprionate–reducing the loss of ability to breathe out over a year. It also gave similar positive ratings to the ingredient in Flonase (fluticasone) combined with another bronchodilator (salmeterol in Serevent).

Significantly, the study indicates that patients must have some kind of treatment and that use of corticosteroids is “unnecessary and inappropriate.” Details of the large study (5000-plus patients) here. It will be good to see followup studies that confirm the results but are conducted without the sponsorship of the drug companies.