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Temple-led study finds no benefit in taking statin drugs for COPD exacerbation prevention
Date:5/18/2014

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  • COPD exacerbation rates were similar in the two groups: 1.36 per year among those taking simvastatin and 1.39 per year for the placebo group.
  • The median number of days to first exacerbation also did not differ significantly: 223 days for simvastatin and 231 days for placebo.
  • The severity of exacerbation was not impacted by whether the patient took simvastatin or placebo.
  • There was no effect of simvastatin on lung function or general or disease-specific quality of life.
  • The rates of adverse events (such as pneumonia) and deaths were similar for the two groups.
  • As expected, at one-year follow-up, patients on the statin drug had lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those on placebo.

The study was stopped early because an interim analysis conducted by the data safety monitoring board demonstrated futility for simvastatin to provide benefit for COPD.

"In conclusion, 40 mg of daily simvastatin added to usual care did not reduce exacerbation rate or prolong time to exacerbation in moderate to severe COPD patients at risk for exacerbation," the researchers reported. "Furthermore simvastatin had no effect on lung function, quality of life, severe adverse effects or mortality."

Dr. Criner cautioned, however, that the finding that the statin drug has no benefit for prevention of COPD exacerbations does not mean that COPD patients should stop taking statins prescribed for cholesterol lowering or other cardiovascular indications.

"COPD patients benefit from the use of statins just like any other group of patients that benefit from statins according to established indications to reduce cardiovascular risk," Dr. Criner said. "What this study shows is that patients who do not meet already established criteria for statin therapy should not take statins only to prevent COPD exacerbations."

Temple is sending a letter to its study participants to advise them of that fact.

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Contact: Jeremy Walter
Jeremy.Walter@tuhs.temple.edu
215-707-7882
Temple University Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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