Budesonide/formoterol as effective as prednisolone plus formoterol in acute exacerbations of COPD A double-blind, randomised, non-inferiority, parallel-group, multicentre study
1 Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Family Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, Uppsala University, Sweden
2 Semeco, Ängelholm, Sweden
3 Universitätsklinikum Giessen and Marburg, Marburg, Germany
4 AstraZeneca, Södertälje, Sweden
5 Lung and Allergy Research Unit, Karolinska Institutet, Solna, Sweden
Respiratory Research 2009, 10:11 doi:10.1186/1465-9921-10-11Published: 19 February 2009
Oral corticosteroids and inhaled bronchodilators with or without antibiotics represent standard treatment of COPD exacerbations of moderate severity. Frequent courses of oral steroids may be a safety issue. We wanted to evaluate in an out-patient setting whether a 2-week course of inhaled budesonide/formoterol would be equally effective for treatment of acute COPD exacerbations as standard therapy in patients judged by the investigator not to require hospitalisation.
This was a double-blind, randomised, non-inferiority, parallel-group, multicentre study comparing two treatment strategies; two weeks' treatment with inhaled budesonide/formoterol (320/9 μg, qid) was compared with prednisolone (30 mg once daily) plus inhaled formoterol (9 μg bid) in patients with acute exacerbations of COPD attending a primary health care centre. Inclusion criteria were progressive dyspnoea for less than one week, FEV1 30–60% of predicted normal after acute treatment with a single dose of oral corticosteroid plus nebulised salbutamol/ipratropium bromide and no requirement for subsequent immediate hospitalisation, i.e the clinical status after the acute treatment allowed for sending the patient home.
A total of 109 patients (mean age 67 years, 33 pack-years, mean FEV1 45% of predicted) were randomized to two weeks' double-blind treatment with budesonide/formoterol or prednisolone plus formoterol and subsequent open-label budesonide/formoterol (320/9 μg bid) for another 12 weeks. Change in FEV1 was the primary efficacy variable. Non-inferiority was predefined.
Non-inferiority of budesonide/formoterol was proven because the lower limit of FEV1-change (97.5% CI) was above 90% of the efficacy of the alternative treatment. Symptoms, quality of life, treatment failures, need for reliever medication (and exacerbations during follow-up) did not differ between the groups. No safety concerns were identified.
High dose budesonide/formoterol was as effective as prednisolone plus formoterol for the ambulatory treatment of acute exacerbations in non-hospitalized COPD patients. An early increase in budesonide/formoterol dose may therefore be tried before oral corticosteroids are used.
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