Introduction: Ventolin Nebules® (reference product; GlaxoSmithKline) was the first licensed nebulizer solution containing the rapid-onset, short-acting β2-agonist salbutamol. Salbutamol Steri-Neb™ (comparator; Teva Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) has the same chemical composition as the reference product. This study evaluated whether the effectiveness of the comparator is non-inferior to the reference product alongside concomitant medications during real-life clinical management of COPD exacerbations. Safety in terms of adverse events (AEs) was also examined.
Methods: This matched (1:1) historical cohort study evaluated data from 2 UK primary care databases on patients prescribed the salbutamol comparator or reference. The study included a 1-year baseline period, starting 1 year before the index prescription date, and 1-year outcome period. Cohorts were matched for baseline COPD respiratory medications. The primary outcome was analysis of non-inferiority for the comparator versus reference product for the rate of moderate and severe COPD exacerbations. Non-inferiority was satisfied if the 95% confidence interval (CI) upper limit for mean differences in proportions between treatments was <15%. Secondary outcomes were examined through rate ratios (RR) of severe exacerbations and AEs.
Results: After matching, 1191 patients were included in each cohort. Adjusted upper 95% CI for the difference in proportion of patients experiencing moderate or severe exacerbations between comparator and reference groups was 0.032 (3.2%), demonstrating non-inferiority. No significant differences were observed in rates of moderate and severe exacerbations (RR: 1.00; 95% CI: 0.91, 1.10), severe exacerbations (RR: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.49, 1.17), or AEs (RR: 0.98; 95% CI: 0.78, 1.22) after adjusting for baseline confounders. No significant differences across cohorts were observed for rates of any AE or death.
Conclusion: This matched cohort study of real-life management of COPD patients supports the salbutamol comparator as non-inferior to the reference product, providing an effective treatment alternative for COPD exacerbations. Comparator and reference safety profiles were similar.