Study Questions Safety Of Advair, Similar Drugs For COPD

For those people who are diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, commonly known as COPD, taking both an inhaled steroid and a long-acting beta-2 agonist, might be less beneficial than effective, reports Reuters Health, citing emerging research. COPD is a progressive lung disease that causes breathing difficulties.

According to the research team, said Reuters, the two-drug approach for COPD patients is “limited,” and can also lead to a significant increased risk for pneumonia and other infections. Today’s guidelines continue to call for the combination to help minimize symptoms in patients who are considered to have “severe” and “very severe” COPD, according to Dr. Gustavo J. Rodrigo, from Hospital Central de las Fuerzas Armadas in Montevideo, Uruguay, and his associates. The research was published in the October issue of the journal Chest.

Long-acting beta-2 agonists, or LABAs include Severent and Foradil; <"">Advair and Symbicort are medications that contain both a LABA and an inhaled steroid, Reuters pointed out.

The study, a large systematic review, looked at the safety and efficacy the combined treatment versus LABA treatment alone, both in regular use, said Reuters. The team examined existing date and found 18 randomized controlled trials comprised of 12,446 stable patients diagnosed with “moderate-to-very severe COPD,” said Reuters.

In the pooled analysis, combination therapy was associated with a significantly reduced risk of moderate COPD incidences (17.5 percent) when compared to LABA-only treatment by therapy (20.1 percent), reported Reuters, which pointed out that the combination therapy did not have an impact on severe COPD. Despite this, the team found that adding inhaled steroids to treatment “significantly increased the likelihood of developing pneumonia (63 percent), viral respiratory infections (22 percent), and oral fungal infections (59 percent), noted Reuters. The two-drug combo did not improve death rates.

“It’s likely,” said the team, that the majority of COPD patients in these groups should only receive LABA treatment, pending additional research, reported Reuters.

Meanwhile, earlier this year we wrote about a study that found that patients taking Advair, Symbicort and other inhaled corticosteroids may experience and increase risk of pneumonia in patients if they are being treated for COPD by as much as 70 percent. That study was conducted by researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and was published in the February 9th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

While Advair, made by GlaxoSmithKline, is approved to treat COPD, Symbicort has not been approved for such use; the maker of Symbicort, AstraZeneca, is seeking such approval. No stand-alone corticosteroid has been approved to treat COPD.

COPD is the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States. Symptoms include restricted breathing, secretion of mucus, oxidative stress and airway inflammation. The Wake Forest study authors recommended that people should discuss the risks and benefits of using inhaled corticosteroids with their doctors. Unfortunately, there are few alternatives available for people with COPD.

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