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Clin Med Insights Circ Respir Pulm Med. 2013 Apr 25;7:17-34. doi: 10.4137/CCRPM.S7211. Print 2013.

Pharmacotherapies for COPD.

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  • 1Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, West Midlands, UK.


This review article summarizes the main treatments for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, their mechanisms, and the key evidence from trials supporting their use. Drug classes covered were short acting beta agonists (SABA), short acting muscarinic antagonists (SAMA), long acting beta agonists (LABA), long acting antimuscarinics (LAMA), inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), LABA/ICS combinations, specific phosphodiesterase (PDE4) inhibitors, non-specific PDE inhibitors, mucolytics, and oxygen. Non-specific therapies, such as opiates for relief of dyspnoea and therapies for smoking cessation, are also covered briefly. For each class of drug, mechanisms of action are described, key clinical trial results are reported, and available agents compared. Finally, the place of each drug in therapy is compared between current worldwide guidelines.


chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; disease management; pharmacotherapies

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