When people find out you have COPD, how long does it take them to ask you: "so, how many years did you smoke"? The stigmatization that somehow current or former smokers deserve to get a disease like COPD is born out of ignorance. When people don't understand something, they tend to judge others unfairly and without provocation.
But social stigma is common in COPD and something that many people with the disease have learned to deal with. If you're finding it difficult to deal with social stigma, please read:
Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) are a God-send for active adults with COPD who want to maintain a certain level of independence in their lives. But how do you know which POC to choose? What do you base your decision on?
Because everyone is different, there's not a one-size-fits-all portable oxygen solution. Each year, POCs seem to be getting smaller, lighter and more efficient. I can't wait to see what's in store for next year! In the meantime, compare features, benefits and prices of 5 portable oxygen concentrators that are among the most popular.
According to PharmTimes, 6 new COPD drugs have been recommended for approval by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP). Once approved, they will be available across Europe to treat patients with COPD.
Take a look at which drugs are lying in wait :
- GlaxoSmithKline's Anoro (umeclidinium bromide/vilanterol), Laventair (umeclidinium bromide/vilanterol) and Incruse (umeclidinium bromide)
- Novartis' Ulunar Breezhaler (indacaterol/glycopryronium bromide)
- Teva's DuoResp Sprimomax (budesonide/formoterol) and BiResp Spiromax (budesonide/formoterol) for treatment of both COPD and asthma.
For more information about which drugs are approved, or pending approval, in the European Union, visit the European Medicines Agency.
In October, 2013, I reported that an FDA advisory panel had recently recommended the approval of GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) Anoro Ellipta for once-daily maintenance treatment of COPD. The drug, which is a combination of umeclidinium bromide, a long-acting muscarinic (LAMA) and vilanterol, a long-acting beta agonist (LABA), was finally approved in the US and Canada in December, 2013. But what about our European neighbors? How long do they have to wait for access to this drug? According to Reuters, their wait is over.
GSK and Theravance, the makers of the drug, announced today that they've received the green light from European regulators to market the drug across Europe and the United Kingdom. According to analysts, Anoro Ellipta will generate more than TWO BILLION DOLLARS for these pharma-giants by 2018. That's a whopping half-billion (500 million) dollars each year!
What's the difference between Anoro Ellipta and other COPD medications? For one, analysts say that LABA/LAMA combo treatments like Anoro Ellipta are well on their way of capturing the greater market share and will drive pharmaceutical sales through 2022. Currently, the market is dominated by Spriva and Advair, which represent nearly two-thirds of all COPD drug sales. According to Decision Resources, one of the top pharmaceutical research and advisory firms, by 2022, Spiriva and Advair can bid farewell to market share dominance as their combined sales will decrease to less than 15 percent.
At this point, you may be asking "ok, so it's a big money maker for them, but how will it benefit me?" Reportedly, Anoro Ellipta is the first, once-daily medication approved in the US that combines two long-acting bronchodilators in a single inhaler. It's also approved for treatment of both emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Moreover, in clinical trials, Anoro Ellipta demonstrated a larger increase in FEV1 compared to placebo and umeclidinium 62.5 mcg, and vilanterol 25 mcg, alone.
The Proof is in the Pudding
Whether or not Anoro Ellipta is the drug to beat in relieving COPD symptoms is yet to be seen. Personally, I'm not convinced that it's any better than any of the others out there. However, for the benefit of all COPD patients, I'd love to be proven wrong! If you're interested in trying Anoro Ellipta for daily maintenance, talk to your doctor about it's risks and benefits. Once you've used it for a while, come back to this post and tell me how it worked for you. Until then, I will say a prayer that Anoro Ellipta will be well worth it's likely very high cost.
For complete information about Anoro Ellipta, including dosage, side effects and contraindications, visit the GSK website.
New research from Spain shows that walking 3 to 6 kilometers (1.86 to 3.73 miles) per day reduces the risk of being hospitalized for COPD flare-ups (COPD exacerbation).
543 COPD patients were initially recruited for the study, however only those (391 patients) who participated in the 2 year followup were included in the analysis. Analysis of the data revealed that patients who maintained a lower level of physical activity had an increased rate of hospitalization for COPD exacerbation. Moreover, those who maintained the highest level of physical activity, and then decreased it for some reason, showed an increased rate of hospitalization.
Study results conclude that patients who either increase their level of physical activity or who maintain a moderate level (equivalent to walking 3 to 6 kilometers) of physical activity over time may reduce their risk for being hospitalized for COPD exacerbation.
Are you a daily walker? If so, how has it benefited your COPD? Please be sure to leave a comment and answer the accompanying survey.
Cristóbal Esteban, Inmaculada Arostegui, Myriam Aburto, Javier Moraza, José M. Quintana, Susana Aizpiri, Luis V. Basualdo, Alberto Capelastegui, "Influence of changes in physical activity on frequency of hospitalization in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease", Respirology, DOI: 10.1111/resp.12239
Former British government drug adviser Professor Dave Nutt is literally nuts about e-cigarettes. According to BBC News, Nutt says getting all smokers to switch from traditional cigarettes to E-cigarettes would be "the greatest health advance since vaccinations."
Like many proponents of E-cigarettes, Nutt believes that any side effects associated with the E-cig would not be as harmful to health as real cigarettes. In an interview with Shelagh Fogarty of BBC Radio 5 Live, Nutt says: "I'm totally in favour of this kind of harm reduction approach." Moreover, he agrees with many E-cigarette advocates that electronic cigarettes should NOT be controlled by the FDA or other government agencies, only lightly controlled (by whom he does not say) to encourage smokers to quit using tobacco.
More About Nutt
Professor Nutt is a British psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist who is known for his outspoken political views about illegal substances and substance abuse. After claiming that ecstasy and LSD were more dangerous than alcohol, Nutt was asked to resign as chair in 2009 from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.
In recent years, Nutt has become the voice for drug reform in the UK. In an interview with Matt Shea of VICE.com in 2013, Nutt said that fighting against the UK's moronic drug laws is his duty. For more information about Nutt and drug reform, please read the entire interview.
Getting Back to the E-Cigarette
The E-cigarette has been used by many smokers to quit smoking. Does it work? Some say it does; some say it doesn't. For more information, read:
- The Pros and Cons of E-Cigarettes
- Compare Prices of E-Cigarette Starting Kits
- Will the E-Cigarette Help Me Quit Smoking?
- Readers Respond: What Made You Try the E-Cigarette?
- Are E-Cigarettes Better Than the Real Deal?
Do you agree or disagree with Professor Nutt? Share your comments below.
New hope for lung disease sufferers comes with the recent announcement from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) that they've succeeded in growing human lungs inside the laboratory.
Using components of lungs from deceased children, they were able to strip down one lung to just collagen and elastin, two of the main proteins in connective tissue. Once this "skeleton" lung was created, it acted as a scaffold. They then harvested cells from the other lung and applied them to the scaffolding. Once the lung structure was complete, they immersed it in a nutritious medium for 4 weeks. The end result - they were able to extract a complete human lung from the liquid. The only difference - the new lung was pinker, softer and less dense than the original lung. Using a second set of lungs, the researchers were able to successfully replicate the procedure.
Can Lungs Grown in a Laboratory be Used for a Lung Transplant?
Lung transplants are sometimes a last-resort treatment option for a select group of patients with COPD, but they are difficult to recover from successfully and finding a donor often takes years. All too often, patients succumb to the illness before a suitable donor is found.
Research leading to better treatment options for people with COPD is paramount to positive patient outcomes and a higher quality of life for people with the disease. Although the work that UTMB is doing may someday lead to it, researchers say that the possibility of using lab-engineered lungs for lung transplants is at least 12 years away.
For more information on lung transplants, read:
When pathogens are present in the respiratory tract in the absence of COPD exacerbation, bacterial colonization is said to have occurred. Previously, it was believed that bacterial colonization was "innocuous" in COPD, as long as a person wasn't having an exacerbation. New research suggests that this is not true; COPD patients do experience more respiratory symptoms when their lungs are colonized with bacteria. In fact, bacterial colonization is associated with worsening shortness of breath, cough and mucus production.
"These findings demonstrate that it's time for a paradigm shift in how we treat patients with stable COPD," says Sanjay Sethi, MD, senior author, UB professor of medicine and division chief of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, director of the COPD Study Clinic and staff physician at the Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System (Buffalo VA).
"The lungs are constantly being exposed to microbes 'with every breath you take' as well as from aspiration of small amounts of secretions from the throat, especially during sleep," Sethi says. "If the persistence of these bacteria contributes to increased symptoms and inflammation in the lungs in stable COPD, we should regard this as a chronic infection, not innocuous colonization. For that reason, more must be done to reduce chronic infections in COPD."
For more information on how to prevent infection in COPD, read:
Himanshu Desai et. al. Bacterial Colonization Increases Daily Symptoms in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. ATS. Journals. Jan. 15, 2014.
30 years after giving up cigarettes, 82 year old actor and director Leonard Nimoy announced that he has been diagnosed with COPD. Nimoy, best known for his role as Spock in the TV series Star Trek, urged Twitter followers to "quit now" as he tweeted the news on January 29, 2014.
COPD is the third leading cause of death in this country behind only heart disease and cancer. Primarily caused by smoking, many people don't realize that symptoms can appear decades after they quit.
Despite his illness, Nimoy says his goal remains akin to his signature phrase, "live long and prosper". He writes "I'm doing ok. Just can't walk distances. Love my life, family, friends and followers."
COPD symptoms include progressive shortness of breath, cough and mucus production. Smoking cessation is the #1 goal of any COPD treatment plan. For more information about quitting, read the following:
Airway clearance is an important part of COPD treatment. Not only does it reduce your risk of infection, but it facilitates the removal of mucus from your lungs allowing you to breathe better.
Standard airway clearance techniques have been around for many years. Couple conventional airway clearance techniques with coughing and airway clearance devices and you may just have a win-win-win situation! Take a look at the following to learn more about conventional methods of airway clearance.