During this year’s Respiratory Effectiveness Group (REG) Summit (2016 REG Summit), researchers from around the globe highlighted the urgent need for more research into current therapies for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
According to a news release, this concern is in line with the announcement by members of the World Health Organization (WHO) who stated that in 2012 alone, three million people died from COPD.
Dr. Alan Kaplan (Ontario, Canada), the REG Summit’s plenary speaker, discussed the potential of precision medicine — a novel concept for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account an individual genomic landscape, environment, and lifestyle — to achieve higher efficiency in COPD patient management. This approach will allow patients to receive therapeutics tailored to their specific clinical and personal characteristics.
Presenting the results of the study titled “Effect of beta blockers on the Risk of COPD exacerbations,” Lies Lahousse discussed the potential of beta-blockers used as a treatment for stress or heart problems, such as high blood pressure and angina, as a potential treatment for COPD as well. Worsening of symptoms, including increased breathlessness, activity limitation and reduced quality of life, are an outcome of COPD exacerbations. While beta-blockers may tighten the muscles in the airways, this study reported benefits when used by COPD patients. Looking into health records of 1,621 COPD patients from the Rotterdam Study (which included patients with/without heart failure), cardio selective beta-blockers resulted in a 21% reduction of COPD exacerbations. This number registered 55% in patients with heart failure.
In a second study presented at the meeting, titled “Comparative Effectiveness of Prescribing Similar versus Dissimilar Inhalers for COPD Therapy,” researchers explored the challenges faced by COPD patients at the time of inhalation of medications, specifically addressing the problems when COPD patients are prescribed not one but several types of inhaler for different COPD medications. The study included 52,817 patients from the UK Optimum Patient Care Research Database (OPCRD), and determined that two different inhaler device types were prescribed to 73% of the patients, mostly patients with more severe COPD. In future work, researchers aim to address how prescribing different inhalers impacts real-world clinical outcomes.
These, as well as other studies presented during the 2016 REG Summit are soon to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Thoracic Disease.