Effect of fluticasone propionate/salmeterol (250/50 microg) or salmeterol (50 microg) on COPD exacerbations

Gary T Ferguson, Antonio Anzueto, Richard Fei, Amanda Emmett, Katharine Knobil, Christopher Kalberg
Respiratory Medicine 2008, 102 (8): 1099-108

OBJECTIVES: COPD exacerbations are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. This randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, multicenter study evaluated the effect of fluticasone propionate/salmeterol 250/50 and salmeterol 50 microg twice daily on moderate to severe exacerbations.

METHODS: Patients received standardized treatment with fluticasone propionate/salmeterol 250/50 during a 1-month run-in, followed by randomization to fluticasone propionate/salmeterol 250/50 or salmeterol for 12 months. Moderate to severe exacerbations were defined as worsening symptoms of COPD requiring treatment with oral corticosteroids, antibiotics, or hospitalization.

RESULTS: In 782 patients with COPD (mean FEV(1)=0.94+/-0.36 L, 33% predicted normal), treatment with fluticasone propionate/salmeterol 250/50 significantly reduced (1) the annual rate of moderate to severe exacerbations by 30.5% compared with salmeterol (1.06 and 1.53 per subject per year, respectively, p<0.001), (2) the risk of time to first exacerbation by 25% (hazard ratio=0.750, p=0.003) and (3) the annual rate of exacerbations requiring oral corticosteroids by 40% (p<0.001). Clinical improvements observed during run-in treatment with fluticasone propionate/salmeterol 250/50 were better maintained over 12 months with fluticasone propionate/salmeterol 250/50 than salmeterol. Adverse events were reported for a similar percentage of subjects across groups. A higher reporting of pneumonia was observed with fluticasone propionate/salmeterol 250/50 than salmeterol (7% vs. 4%).

CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that fluticasone propionate/salmeterol 250/50 is more effective than salmeterol at reducing the rate of moderate to severe exacerbations over 1 year. The benefits of this reduction relative to the risk of a higher incidence of reported pneumonia should be considered. This study supports the use of fluticasone propionate/salmeterol 250/50 for the reduction of COPD exacerbations in patients with COPD.

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