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Common COPD drug may help treat hard-to-control asthma

(Photo: Robert Boston)
Dr. Castro examines patient Marsha D. Mitchell.

By Véronique LaCapra

St. Louis – A new study has found that a drug commonly used to treat lung disease may provide a new option to manage hard-to-control asthma.

The drug, called tiotropium, is already approved for use in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

Washington University School of Medicine was one of ten institutions to participate in the study. Washington University pulmonologist Dr. Mario Castro says that on average, study patients adding tiotropium to their usual asthma medication - an inhaled steroid - had forty-eight more symptom-free days.

"We also found that patients really did not have any adverse effects or side effects from the medication, and therefore this represents a nice option for patients that are not achieving control on their current therapy."

Castro says about one in seven patients did experience some dry mouth.

The next step will be to determine which patients can get the most benefit from tiotropium.

"And then also we still need to do some longer-term studies with this medication in patients with asthma, to assure long-term safety."

The current study is published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.


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