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Frank Sciurba, M.D.
Biography

Pittsburgh Pulmonologists Studying Drug for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients

PITTSBURGH, March 19, 2001 — Pulmonologists from the University of Pittsburgh Division of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine are studying an experimental drug that could make breathing easier for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

COPD is a progressive illness that leads to the obstruction of air into and out of the lungs and shortness of breath. It includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthmatic bronchitis; 90 percent of COPD is due to smoking. It is the fourth leading causes of death in the United States.

The international study will evaluate whether Spiriva (Tiotropium), a bronchodilator that opens the airway passages to make it easier for air to get in and out of the lungs, taken by inhalation once per day, can decrease the sensation of shortness of breath during exercise resulting in improvement in the length of time that a person can exercise.

“A study presented last year by researchers at the World Congress on Lung Health and the 10th European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress showed that Spiriva was effective in improving key clinical and health outcomes in COPD patients,” said Frank Sciurba, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and principal investigator in the study. “The drug is similar to Atrovent™, which is a widely used bronchodilator. One of the main differences between the two drugs is that Spiriva can open up the airways for a longer period than Atrovent, which may allow patients to take fewer doses per day."

Up to 160 patients with COPD will be included in the study, which will take place in the United States, Canada and Australia. Approximately 16 to 24 patients between the ages of 40 and 70 will participate in Pittsburgh. Half of the patients in the randomized double blind study will receive inhaled Spiriva for six weeks, while half will receive an inhaled placebo (inactive) medication. All patients must have a diagnosis of COPD, have a cigarette smoking history of 10 pack-years and must not require supplemental oxygen treatment.

The study is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Ingelheim, Germany. Participants will be reimbursed $675 for their time upon completion of the study.

For more information on the study, call 412-692-2800.

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