A phase III study of triple therapy with budesonide/glycopyrrolate/formoterol fumarate metered dose inhaler 320/18/9.6 μg and 160/18/9.6 μg using co-suspension delivery technology in moderate-to-very severe COPD: The ETHOS study protocol

Respir Med. 2019 Oct-Nov;158:59-66. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2019.08.010. Epub 2019 Aug 22.


Background: Single inhaler triple therapies providing an inhaled corticosteroid, a long-acting muscarinic antagonist, and a long-acting β2-agonist (ICS/LAMA/LABAs) are an emerging treatment option for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Nevertheless, questions remain regarding the optimal patient population for triple therapy as well as the benefit:risk ratio of ICS treatment.

Methods: ETHOS is an ongoing, randomized, double-blind, multicenter, parallel-group, 52-week study in symptomatic patients with moderate-to-very severe COPD and a history of exacerbation(s) in the previous year. Two doses of single inhaler triple therapy with budesonide/glycopyrrolate/formoterol fumarate metered dose inhaler (BGF MDI 320/18/9.6 μg and 160/18/9.6 μg) will be compared to glycopyrrolate/formoterol fumarate (GFF) MDI 18/9.6 μg and budesonide/formoterol fumarate (BFF) MDI 320/9.6 μg, all formulated using co-suspension delivery technology. Outcomes include the rate of moderate/severe (primary endpoint) and severe COPD exacerbations, symptoms, quality of life, and all-cause mortality. Sub-studies will assess lung function and cardiovascular safety.

Study population: From June 2015-July 2018, 16,044 patients were screened and 8572 were randomized. Preliminary baseline demographics show that 55.9% of patients had experienced ≥2 moderate/severe exacerbations in the previous year, 79.1% were receiving an ICS-containing treatment at study entry, and 59.9% had blood eosinophil counts ≥150 cells/mm3.

Conclusions: ETHOS will provide data on exacerbations, patient-reported outcomes, mortality, and safety in 8572 patients with moderate-to-very severe COPD receiving triple and dual fixed-dose combinations. For the first time, ICS/LAMA/LABA triple therapy with two different doses of ICS will be compared to dual ICS/LABA and LAMA/LABA therapies.

Clinical trial registration number: NCT02465567.

Keywords: BGF MDI; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Exacerbations; Inhaled corticosteroid; Study protocol; Triple therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Budesonide / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Female
  • Formoterol Fumarate / administration & dosage*
  • Glycopyrrolate / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metered Dose Inhalers*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Budesonide
  • Glycopyrrolate
  • Formoterol Fumarate

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02465567