Both Spiriva and Serevent are long-acting bronchodilators that open the airways, but they do so via different mechanisms.
In the one-year study of 7,376 people with moderate to very severe COPD, those who took once daily Spiriva, compared to those who took twice daily Servent, had an increased amount of time to the first exacerbation (187 days vs. 145 days). That represents a 17% reduction in risk of exacerbation.
“The results show that, in patients with moderate-to-very-severe COPD, tiotropium [Spiriva] is more effective than salmeterol [Servent] in preventing exacerbations,” conclude researchers who were led by Claus Vogelmeier, MD, of the Hospital of the Universities of Giessen and Marburg, Germany.
In an accompanying editorial, Jadwiga A. Wedzicha, MD, of the University College London Medical School, says that the new study attempts to help answer an important question regarding the treatment of COPD: which long-acting bronchodilator should be the initial choice for people with COPD.
“The trial evidence suggests that with respect to exacerbation outcomes, tiotropium, administered once daily, is superior to salmeterol, administered twice daily,” he writes.
Stephen I. Rennard, MD, the Larson Professor of Medicine in the pulmonary and critical care medicine section in the department of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, agrees. “One of the major issues in COPD is which drug do you start someone on,” he says. “The new study provides evidence in terms of how to prioritize the drugs that are available if you have to choose one.”