New Combination Drug Helps Prevent Frightening COPD Flare-Ups

  • If you've ever had a COPD exacerbation, commonly called a "flare-up", then you know how frightening it can be to feel as though you can't catch your breath and are suffocating. No one wants to experience such an event on a regular basis.


    A new drug is about to be released in the United States that shows great promise in preventing COPD flare-ups in certain people. It is called Breo Ellipta and was developed by GlaxoSmithKline, in cooperation with Theravance.


    Breo Ellipta contains two medications in a combination dry powder inhaler (DPI):

    • fluticasone furoate, which is an anti-inflammatory steroid
    • vilanterol inhalation powder, which is a long-acting beta agonist (LABA) and dilates/relaxes the airways

    Together, these medicines work in a convenient once-daily dose as maintenance therapy for airflow obstruction in patients with COPD, including chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema. It is also approved to reduce exacerbations of COPD in patients with a history of them.

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    It is not considered safe for use in patients with asthma, and carries a "black box" warning against using it in patients who have asthma.


    Breo Ellipta works by decreasing inflammation in your lungs and helping the muscles around your airways stay relaxed, so as to increase your airflow. This is helpful both in the ongoing treatment of COPD, as well as in preventing serious flare-up symptoms during times of airway stress.


    As with most medications, there is the possibility of serious side effects, such as a greater risk for pneumonia and bone fractures. The most common side effects reported by patients using Breo Ellipta, however, are fairly minor and will probably lessen over time. They included:

    • inflammation of the nasal passage (nasopharyngitis)
    • upper respiratory tract infection
    • headache
    • oral candidiasis (thrush)

    Breo Ellipta should be available through a prescription from your physician by the third quarter of this year (2013). Experts point out that this new drug is similar to Advair and may even replace at some point in the future.


    If you are looking for a better solution to your COPD treatment than what you are currently using, I encourage you to talk with your doctor about whether Breo Ellipta might be worth giving a try.

Published On: July 17, 2013