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Sunday 01 June 2003

Long-acting beta 2-adrenoceptor agonists or tiotropium bromide for patients with COPD: is combination therapy justified?

By: Tennant RC, Erin EM, Barnes PJ, Hansel TT.

Curr Opin Pharmacol 2003 Jun;3(3):270-6

Bronchodilators are the mainstay of therapy for patients with established chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but, at present, the majority of patients use short-acting agents. There is increasing evidence that long-acting agents, such as the beta(2)-adrenoceptor agonists salmeterol and formeterol, and the new anticholinergic tiotropium bromide provide a better therapeutic option. In the treatment of COPD, long-acting beta(2)-adrenoceptor agonists (LABAs) given twice daily cause the same degree of bronchodilation as tiotropium bromide given once daily. Combined use of an inhaled LABA with tiotropium bromide should provide important therapeutic benefits, as these drugs have distinct and complementary pharmacological actions in the airways. Although clinical trials of this combination have not been performed, clinical experience with Combivent, a combination of a short-acting beta(2)-adrenoceptor agonist (salbutamol) and a short-acting anticholinergic (ipratropium bromide), in COPD is encouraging because the bronchodilation produced is of a magnitude greater than that of either component alone. However, because LABAs are given twice daily but tiotropium bromide is required only once daily, the challenge is to develop a combined inhaler that can be employed on a daily basis.

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