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Anti-Mucus Drug Slows Symptoms of COPD
Date:6/12/2008

Carbocisteine reduced exacerbation of the lung condition by 25%, Chinese study says

THURSDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- In people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the expectorant carbocisteine seems to help slow worsening of symptoms, Chinese researchers report.

COPD is a progressive, destructive disease of the lungs, usually brought on by smoking, for which there's no known cure. Symptoms include restricted breathing, secretion of mucus, oxidative stress and inflammation of the airway.

"COPD is a major respiratory disease that affects many people, especially the elderly, and the treatment of COPD is costly," said lead researcher Dr. Jin-Ping Zheng, of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Disease in Guangzhou, China.

"Carbocisteine is a highly cost-effective medicine that prevents exacerbation of COPD," Zheng said.

Long-term use of carbocisteine can help preserve health-care resourses, Zheng said. "This is especially good for developing countries and low-income populations -- it provides an option to treat COPD," he said. "Carbocisteine, as well as other mucolytics, are old medicines. However, carefully conducted clinical trials of existing medications can offer new insights into COPD care."

The findings are in the June 15 issue of The Lancet.

For the study, 709 patients with COPD were randomly selected to receive daily doses of carbocisteine or placebo. Over the year of the study, patients receiving carbocisteine had a 25 percent reduction in the number of exacerbations of COPD, compared with patients receiving a placebo, the researchers found.

"In addition, quality of life was improved significantly," Zheng said, adding that long-term administration of mucolytics, such as carbocisteine, should be recognized as a worthwhile treatment for COPD.

Dr. Paul Scanlon, of the Mayo Clinic's Division of Pulmonary and Critical Ca
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