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Drug May Make Breathing Easier for Millions ,,

An experimental drug could make millions of people suffering from smoker’s lung breathe much easier.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or smoker’s lung, is an irreversible progressive illness caused by narrowing of the airways. It encompasses emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In tests involving 500 people who had suffered from COPD for more than a decade, the drug appeared to be safer and better at improving breathing and at reducing infections and hospital visits than the best current treatment, researchers said. They were addressing scientists at the World Congress on Lung Health recently.

The inhaled drug, Spiriva, could be available by the year 2002. And if it turns out to be as good as it looks right now, it could improve the quality of life for nearly half of the 600 million people with the disease, said Dr. Bartolome Celli. Celli is chief of pulmonary and critical care at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston.

While the drug may not slow the deterioration of the lungs, many sufferers could see their overall well-being improve by between 30 and 50 percent, said Celi.

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