The long-acting bronchodilator tiotropium and single-inhaler combination therapy of inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta2-agonists (ICS/LABA) are commonly used for maintenance treatment of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Combining these treatments, which have different mechanisms of action, may be more effective than administering the individual components.
To assess relative effects of the following treatments on markers of exacerbations, symptoms, quality of life and lung function in patients with COPD.• Tiotropium plus LABA/ICS versus tiotropium.• Tiotropium plus LABA/ICS versus LABA/ICS.
We searched the Cochrane Airways Group Specialised Register of Trials (April 2015), ClinicalTrials.gov (www.ClinicalTrials.gov), the World Health Organization (WHO) trials portal and reference lists of relevant articles.
We included parallel, randomised controlled trials (RCTs) lasting three months or longer conducted to compare ICS and LABA combination therapy in addition to inhaled tiotropium versus tiotropium alone or combination therapy alone.
We independently assessed trials for inclusion, then extracted data on trial quality and outcome results. We contacted study authors to ask for additional information. We collected trial information on adverse effects.
Tiotropium plus LABA/ICS versus tiotropiumWe included six studies (1902 participants) with low risk of bias that compared tiotropium in addition to inhaled corticosteroid and long-acting beta2-agonist combination therapy versus tiotropium alone. Investigators found no statistically significant differences in mortality between treatments (odds ratio (OR) 1.80, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.55 to 5.91; two studies; 961 participants), a reduction in all-cause hospitalisations with the use of combined therapy (tiotropium + LABA/ICS) (OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.40 to 0.92; two studies; 961 participants; number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome (NNTB) 19.7, 95% CI 10.75 to 123.41). The effect on exacerbations was heterogeneous among trials and was not meta-analysed. Health-related quality of life measured by St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) showed a statistically significant improvement in total scores with use of tiotropium + LABA/ICS compared with tiotropium alone (mean difference (MD) -3.46, 95% CI -5.05 to -1.87; four studies; 1446 participants). Lung function was significantly different in the combined therapy (tiotropium + LABA/ICS) group, although average benefit with this therapy was small. None of the included studies included exercise tolerance as an outcome.A pooled estimate of these studies did not show a statistically significant difference in adverse events (OR 1.16, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.47; four studies; 1363 participants), serious adverse events (OR 0.86, 95% CI 0.57 to 1.30; four studies; 1758 participants) and pneumonia (Peto OR 1.62, 95% CI 0.54 to 4.82; four studies; 1758 participants). Tiotropium plus LABA/ICS versus LABA/ICSOne of the six studies (60 participants) also compared combined therapy (tiotropium + LABA/ICS) versus LABA/ICS therapy alone. This study was affected by lack of power; therefore results did not allow us to draw conclusions for this comparison.
In this update, we found new moderate-quality evidence that combined tiotropium + LABA/ICS therapy compared with tiotropium plus placebo decreases hospital admission. Low-quality evidence suggests an improvement in disease-specific quality of life with combined therapy. However, evidence is insufficient to support the benefit of tiotropium + LABA/ICS for mortality and exacerbations (moderate- and low-quality evidence, respectively). Of note, not all participants enrolled in the included studies would be candidates for triple therapy according to current international guidance.Compared with the use of tiotropium plus placebo, tiotropium + LABA/ICS-based therapy does not increase undesirable effects such as adverse events or serious non-fatal adverse events.