Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients are equally served with corticosteroid treatment or a dual bronchodilator medicine, according to a study published by the American Thoracic Society.
While both medications have the same desired end result — opening the patient’s airways — they use different mechanisms to achieve their goals.
Traditionally, studies have shown that corticosteroids are best for patients with high counts of eosinophils, a category of white blood cells. But the new study of Novartis’s Ultibro Breezhaler, a medicine using compounds other than steroids, has found that it works just as well with COPD patients regardless of their white-cell counts, according to a press release.
Results from FLAME, a Novartis-funded yearlong study of more than 3,000 COPD sufferers, appeared in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, a publication of the American Thoracic Society. FLAME data will contribute to the Ultibro Breezhaler’s Phase 3 clinical trial, the typical last step before drugs are released to the market.
Vasant Narasimhan, Novartis’s chief medical officer and global head of drug development, hailed the study as a breakthrough alternative to traditional treatments.
"The data highlight the opportunity to allow more patients to avoid unnecessary exposure steroid-containing regimens and the significant potential associated risks," Narasimhan said in the release.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the risks of inhaled corticosteroids include fungal infections or irritation of the throat.