In a recent clinical trial of tiotropium (Spiriva), researchers found that the drug relieves exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), thereby reducing the amount of time a patient with moderate-tosevere COPD spends receiving treatment. Besides treating flare-ups of COPD, tiotropium has already been shown to improve lung function, shortness of breath, and quality of life. Researchers at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis assessed the frequency of COPD flare-ups in 1829 patients receiving either once-daily tiotropium or placebo for 6 months. Patients continued using their other medications except for other bronchodilators in the same class as tiotropium. Results showed that, in the tiotropium group, 27.9% of patients experienced at least one COPD flare-up, compared with 32.3% of patients in the placebo group. COPD-related hospitalization was reduced among patients in the tiotropium group, compared with the placebo group: 7%, compared with 9.5%. Researchers also noted a longer time until a COPD flare-up occurred among patients treated with tiotropium.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.