Effect of tiotropium on COPD exacerbations: A systematic review

David M.G. Halpin, Claus Vogelmeier, Michael P. Pieper, Norbert Metzdorf, Frank Richard, Antonio Anzueto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background Exacerbation frequency is related to disease progression, quality of life, and prognosis in COPD. Earlier diagnosis, along with interventions aimed at preventing exacerbations and delaying progression, may help reduce the global burden of disease. Long-acting inhaled bronchodilators are effective at maintaining symptom relief and are recommended as first-choice therapy for more symptomatic patients and those at risk of exacerbation. Methods As prevention of exacerbations is a priority goal in COPD management and a number of different long-acting bronchodilators are available, we conducted a systematic review of exacerbation data from randomized controlled trials (published January 2000 to May 2014) comparing the effect of tiotropium versus placebo and/or other maintenance therapies. Results Exacerbations were a primary endpoint in 12 publications (five studies: four comparing tiotropium with placebo; one with active comparator) and a secondary endpoint in 17 publications (seven studies: six comparing tiotropium with placebo; one with active comparator). Overall, tiotropium was associated with a longer time to first exacerbation event and fewer exacerbations (including severe exacerbations/hospitalizations) compared with placebo and long-acting β2-agonists. Tiotropium also showed similar efficacy to glycopyrronium and a fixed long-acting muscarinic antagonist/long-acting β2-agonist combination (glycopyrronium/indacaterol), although not all studies were powered to demonstrate differences in exacerbation outcomes. Exacerbation outcomes were comparable with both formulations of tiotropium (HandiHaler® 18 μg/Respimat® 5 μg). Conclusions The results of this comprehensive systematic review demonstrate tiotropium is beneficial in reducing exacerbation risk versus placebo or other maintenance treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalRespiratory Medicine
StatePublished - May 2016


  • Anticholinergic
  • Antimuscarinic
  • COPD
  • Long-acting muscarinic antagonist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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