Combination inhaled bronchodilator therapy in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Pharmacotherapy. 2007 Mar;27(3):447-54. doi: 10.1592/phco.27.3.447.


The Global Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) guidelines suggest the potential use of combination bronchodilator therapy in patients with stage II or higher chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Guidelines from the American Thoracic Society also mention that certain combinations of bronchodilators may prevent exacerbations. Combinations of several agents may benefit patients with COPD not only by improving lung function, but also by decreasing exacerbation rates and improving overall symptoms. A MEDLINE search was conducted to gather published data and clinical trial reports regarding the clinical effect of combining bronchodilators in the treatment of COPD. Agents such as oxitropium, which is not available in the United States, were not included in the analysis. Although the data are somewhat limited, trials suggest many potential benefits for combination bronchodilator therapy in patients with COPD. Information on combining long-acting anticholinergic drugs with long-acting beta2-agonists is scarce, but the combination of two long-acting agents may provide additional benefits by improving patient compliance with prescribed regimens. More studies evaluating outcomes in patients with COPD may help solidify the potential benefits of combination inhaled bronchodilator therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Albuterol / analogs & derivatives
  • Albuterol / therapeutic use
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Ethanolamines / therapeutic use
  • Formoterol Fumarate
  • Humans
  • Ipratropium / therapeutic use
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Salmeterol Xinafoate
  • Scopolamine Derivatives / therapeutic use
  • Tiotropium Bromide


  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Ethanolamines
  • Scopolamine Derivatives
  • Salmeterol Xinafoate
  • Ipratropium
  • Albuterol
  • Formoterol Fumarate
  • Tiotropium Bromide