Triple Therapy Versus Dual Bronchodilation and Inhaled Corticosteroids/Long-Acting β-Agonists in COPD: Accumulating Evidence from Network Meta-Analyses

Mario Cazzola, Luigino Calzetta, Paola Rogliani, Maria Gabriella Matera
Pulmonary Therapy 2019, 5 (2): 117-126
Guidelines are mainly based on evidence of well-designed randomized controlled trials (RCTs), but there are limitations to the transferability of conclusions of RCTs to usual care mainly because the patients enrolled in RCTs are selected and not representative of the population encountered in daily practice; moreover, the research environment is substantially different from that of the real world. Because of the scarcity of data generated in large unselected populations in everyday clinical practice, the possibility of using meta-analyses can be considered. Recently, several meta-analyses have attempted to clarify the role of triple therapy containing a long-acting β-agonist (LABA), a long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA) and an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) delivered from a single inhaler in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also considering that there is a big difference in the use of triple therapy between what is recommended by COPD guidelines or strategies and the prescriptive behaviour of clinicians. Taking into account the results of the most recent meta-analyses, we believe that triple therapy provides modest clinical benefit in the general COPD population, but in patients on LABA/LAMA combination therapy, who still experience acute exacerbations of COPD (AECOPDs) and have blood eosinophil counts ≥ 300 cells·μl-1 , it is of clinical relevance. On the contrary, adding a LAMA to an ICS/LABA combination elicits relevant clinical benefit in the general COPD population, supporting the role of dual bronchodilation therapy for the treatment of COPD. The quantitative synthesis of the currently available clinical evidence seems to suggest that, in patients with COPD already on ICS/LABA combination, the therapy can be improved without an increase of cardiovascular severe adverse events (SAEs) when a LAMA is added to the combination.


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