In a recent clinical trial of tiotropium (Spiriva),researchers found that the drug relieves exacerbations ofchronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), therebyreducing the amount of time a patient with moderate-tosevereCOPD spends receiving treatment. Besides treatingflare-ups of COPD, tiotropium has already been shown toimprove lung function, shortness of breath, and quality oflife. Researchers at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolisassessed the frequency of COPD flare-ups in 1829 patientsreceiving either once-daily tiotropium or placebo for 6months. Patients continued using their other medicationsexcept for other bronchodilators in the same class astiotropium. 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 patientsin the tiotropium group, compared with the placebo group:7%, compared with 9.5%. Researchers also noted a longertime until a COPD flare-up occurred among patients treatedwith tiotropium.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.