Researchers at the University of Manchester found that flare-ups in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can be reduced by 20% with a combined triple inhaler. The team’s work was published in the Lancet.
The 2,691-patient trial compared an inhaler that delivers 3 different compounds to a commonly-used inhaler. Another sub-set of patients were administered a triple combination therapy in 2 inhalers.
All of the trial participants were current or former smokers and would expect to experience 1.3 COPD flare-ups per person in a year, according to the researchers. These exacerbations are normally caused by an infection and can result in hospitalization or death.
Instead of the expected 1.3 flare-ups per person each year, the team found that the risk of an exacerbation was lessened by 20% for the group using the triple inhaler.
Using a count of blood eosinophil, the team said it could identify patients more likely to benefit from the triple inhaler containing an inhaled steroid.
“This is the 1st long-term study to look at the possibilities of triple therapy as a preventative measure for COPD exacerbations,” principal investigator Jørgen Vestbo said in prepared remarks. “COPD exacerbations lead to approximately 150,000 hospital admissions and 1.2 million bed-days every year in the UK, so to reduce this figure by 20% would make a huge difference, not only for patients’ quality of life, but also for the resources of the NHS.”
The researchers also noted that the triple inhaler helped improve lung function and resulted in fewer overall symptoms.
The study was funded by the Italian-based company Chiesi Farmaceutica SpA.