Changes in lung function and health status in patients with COPD treated with tiotropium or salmeterol plus fluticasone

Kazuyoshi Kurashima, Kenichirou Hara, Kouichirou Yoneda, Tetsu Kanauchi, Naho Kagiyama, Daido Tokunaga, Noboru Takayanagi, Mikio Ubukata, Yutaka Sugita
Respirology: Official Journal of the Asian Pacific Society of Respirology 2009, 14 (2): 239-44

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The effects of tiotropium, a long-acting anticholinergic drug, were compared with those of the combination of salmeterol, a long-acting beta(2)-agonist, and fluticasone, an inhaled corticosteroid, in patients with COPD.

METHODS: A 4-month, randomized, open cross-over study of tiotropium, 18 microg once daily, versus salmeterol, 50 microg, plus fluticasone, 200 microg, twice daily, was conducted in patients with COPD. Efficacy was assessed by spirometry and responses to the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ). After 4 months, patients were asked to select their subsequent therapy and indicate the reasons for their selection.

RESULTS: A total of 78 patients completed the study. There were no significant differences in the improvements in FEV(1) or SGRQ scores between the therapies. Similar numbers of patients selected tiotropium (42.3%) and salmeterol plus fluticasone (57.7%). However, those who preferred one of the therapies demonstrated greater improvements in SGRQ scores with that therapy. One subgroup of patients (30.8%) showed greater improvements in dyspnoea and FEV(1) in response to tiotropium, and the other subgroup of patients (35.9%) showed greater improvements in dyspnoea and FEV(1) in response to salmeterol plus fluticasone. Some patients (14.1%) selected salmeterol plus fluticasone because of positive effects on sputum expectoration.

CONCLUSIONS: The study was unblinded and the results need to be interpreted with caution. However, tiotropium and salmeterol plus fluticasone had similar overall effects on pulmonary function and SGRQ scores in patients with COPD. Responses to the two therapies were heterogeneous, and the patients who showed greater improvements in FEV(1) or SGRQ scores with one of the therapies preferred it for their subsequent treatment.

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