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Foundation says ‘exercise caution'

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation says ‘exercise caution’

Media Statement

For immediate release

26 September, 2008

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation recommends that people taking Spiriva (tiatropium), Atrovent or Combivent (containing ipratropium) for a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) should keep taking their medication but talk with their doctor if they are unsure about cardiac risks.

Anyone with unstable or frequent angina should consult their doctor as soon as possible.

The Foundation makes its recommendation following a recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that suggests a relationship between these two COPD drugs and heart problems.

In the JAMA study people who took Atrovent or Spiriva had a 58 percent higher risk of cardiac death, heart attacks or strokes than those on a placebo or other treatments. However, this seemingly high figure needs to be interpreted cautiously. In fact the risk increased from 1.2% to 1.8%.

The chairman of the British Lung Foundation, Dr Keith Prowse, reportedly said “we need more research to establish accurate levels of risk. In the meantime people should discuss any concerns they have with their GP.”

The British Heart Foundation’s cardiac nurse reportedly said ‘’anyone with COPD who is benefiting from taking anti-cholingeric inhalers should not stop taking them on the basis of this study alone.”

Other research results released in Belgium yesterday from a project involving Spiriva and sponsored by pharmaceutical companies Boehringer Ingelheim and Pfizer offers quite different conclusions, and confirms the safety of Spiriva.

Against this background of conflicting information, the Foundation believes that its recommendations are in the best interests of all patients with COPD.


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