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Long acting beta2 agonists for stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with poor reversibility: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials



Long acting beta2 agonists for stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with poor reversibility: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials



Bmc Pulmonary Medicine 4: 7



The long acting beta2-agonists, salmeterol and formoterol, have been recommended, by some, as first line treatment of stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We reviewed evidence of efficacy and safety when compared with placebo or anticholinergic agents in patients with poorly reversible COPD. After searching MEDLINE, EMBASE, HealthSTAR, BIOSIS Previews, PASCAL, ToxFile, SciSearch, the Cochrane Library, and PubMed, as well as Web sites, selected journals, reference lists, and contacting drug manufacturers, two reviewers independently screened reports of randomised controlled trials of parallel or crossover design lasting four weeks or longer and including patients with a forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) < or = 75% of predicted, a ratio of FEV1 to forced vital capacity (FVC) < or = 88% of predicted, and < 15% improvement from baseline FEV1 after a dose of a beta2 agonist. We included trials comparing salmeterol or formoterol with placebo or with ipratropium bromide and reporting one of these outcomes: lung function; exercise capacity; quality of life scores; dyspnea; exacerbations; rescue inhaler use; incidence of tachycardia, hypokalemia, or dry mouth. Two reviewers assessed the quality of included reports using the Jadad scale and allocation concealment, and abstracted data. Twelve trials satisfied our inclusion criteria; eight were high quality (Jadad score >2) and four were low quality (< or = 2). The adequacy of allocation concealment was unclear in all of them. We did not perform a meta-analysis due to differences in trial design and how outcomes were reported.Two trials comparing salmeterol with ipratropium did not detect differences; one trial comparing formoterol and ipratropium described greater improvement with formoterol in morning PEFR (15.3 versus 7.1 l/min, p = 0.040). Of twelve trials comparing long acting beta2 agonists with placebo, six reported no improvement in exercise capacity, eleven reported improvements in FEV1 lung function (one reported no improvement), six reported less rescue inhaler usage (one reported no difference) and five reported improved dyspnea scores (two reported no improvement). Differences in quality of life were detected in one salmeterol trial; however, two salmeterol, and one formoterol trial reported no differences. Adverse effects of interest were not reported. In terms of clinical outcomes and safety, we could not find convincing evidence that salmeterol and formoterol have demonstrated advantages to ipratropium, a less expensive drug, for patients with stable COPD and poor reversibility. Compared to placebo, we found evidence of reduced rescue inhaler usage and improved spirometric outcomes without a significant impact on quality of life or exercise capacity.

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Accession: 049488610

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 15339337

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2466-4-7


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