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In patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, a combination of salmeterol and fluticasone propionate (SFC) can cut the risk of dying within 2 years in half, according to a 2-year study. Salmeterol is a long-acting inhaled bronchodilator and fluticasone is an anti-inflammatory drug.


Researchers randomly assigned 1,323 patients with severe COPD to receive either SFC or tiotropium, a long-acting bronchodilator. Tracking exacerbation rate, health status, lung function, mortality, and study withdrawal rate, they found no differences in the rate of exacerbations between the two treatment groups. But patients taking SFC were 50% less likely to die from any cause during the study, and were also less likely to withdraw from the study than patients taking tiotropium.


Patients taking SFC were more likely to require antibiotics to treat exacerbations, while those taking tiotropium were more likely to be treated with oral corticosteroids.


Source: Wedzicha JA, et al., The prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations by salmeterol/fluticasone propionate or tiotropium bromide, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, January 1, 2008.