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      Triple therapy (ICS/LABA/LAMA) in COPD: time for a reappraisal

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          Recently, two “fixed triple” single-inhaler combinations of an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS), a long-acting β 2-agonist (LABA), and a long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA) have become available for patients with COPD. This review presents the clinical evidence that led to the approval of these triple therapies, discusses the role of ICS in patients with COPD, and presents data on the relative efficacy of “fixed triple” (ICS/LAMA/LABA) therapy vs LAMA, ICS/LABA, and LAMA/LABA combinations, and summarizes studies in which ICS/LABAs were combined with LAMAs to form “open triple” combinations. Of the five main fixed triple studies completed so far, three evaluated the efficacy and safety of an extrafine formulation of beclometasone dipropionate, formoterol fumarate, and glycopyrronium; the other two studies evaluated fluticasone furoate, vilanterol, and umeclidinium. Overall, compared to LAMA, ICS/LABA, or LAMA/LABA, triple therapy decreased the risk of exacerbations and improved lung function and health status, with a favorable benefit-to-harm ratio. Furthermore, triple therapy showed a promising signal in terms of improved survival. The evidence suggests that triple therapy is the most effective treatment in moderate/severe symptomatic patients with COPD at risk of exacerbations, with marginal if any risk of side effects including pneumonia. Ongoing studies are examining the role of triple therapy in less severe symptomatic patients with COPD and asthma–COPD overlap.

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              Randomised, double blind, placebo controlled study of fluticasone propionate in patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: the ISOLDE trial.

              To determine the effect of long term inhaled corticosteroids on lung function, exacerbations, and health status in patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Double blind, placebo controlled study. Eighteen UK hospitals. 751 men and women aged between 40 and 75 years with mean forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV(1)) 50% of predicted normal. Inhaled fluticasone propionate 500 microgram twice daily from a metered dose inhaler or identical placebo. Efficacy measures: rate of decline in FEV(1) after the bronchodilator and in health status, frequency of exacerbations, respiratory withdrawals. Safety measures: morning serum cortisol concentration, incidence of adverse events. There was no significant difference in the annual rate of decline in FEV(1 )(P=0.16). Mean FEV(1) after bronchodilator remained significantly higher throughout the study with fluticasone propionate compared with placebo (P<0.001). Median exacerbation rate was reduced by 25% from 1.32 a year on placebo to 0.99 a year on with fluticasone propionate (P=0.026). Health status deteriorated by 3.2 units a year on placebo and 2.0 units a year on fluticasone propionate (P=0.0043). Withdrawals because of respiratory disease not related to malignancy were higher in the placebo group (25% v 19%, P=0.034). Fluticasone propionate 500 microgram twice daily did not affect the rate of decline in FEV(1) but did produce a small increase in FEV(1). Patients on fluticasone propionate had fewer exacerbations and a slower decline in health status. These improvements in clinical outcomes support the use of this treatment in patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of COPD
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                Dove Medical Press
                12 December 2018
                : 13
                : 3971-3981
                [1 ]COPD Center, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden, lowie.vanfleteren@
                [2 ]CIRO, Horn, the Netherlands, lowie.vanfleteren@
                [3 ]Department of Respiratory Medicine, Maastricht University Medical Hospital, Maastricht, the Netherlands, lowie.vanfleteren@
                [4 ]Section of Cardiorespiratory and Internal Medicine, Department of Medical Sciences, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy
                [5 ]Global Clinical Development, Chiesi Farmaceutici SpA, Parma, Italy
                [6 ]Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Lowie Vanfleteren, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Vita Stråket 12, Plan 0, COPD-centrum, 413 45 Gothenburg, Sweden, Tel +46 73 660 1730, Email lowie.vanfleteren@
                © 2018 Vanfleteren et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.



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