More Than 50 Medicines in Development for COPD, Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S.

More Than 50 Medicines in Development for COPD, Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S.

Washington, D.C. (February 2, 2012) — America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are working on 54 medicines to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a report released today by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). These exciting therapies are in late-stage development, meaning they are either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Today, more than 13 million American adults suffer from COPD, one of the most common lung diseases in the U.S. A chronic, progressive lower respiratory disease that encompasses two main conditions – chronic bronchitis and emphysema – COPD is characterized by obstructed airflow to the lungs that interferes with normal breathing. People with COPD may be limited in their ability to work, exercise and perform routine activities.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the number of patients with COPD is increasing. In addition to those who have been diagnosed with the disease, 12 million Americans likely have COPD without knowing it.

“Early detection of COPD is imperative, as effective treatment can change the course and progression of this devastating disease,” said PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani. “The promising new therapies highlighted in this report illustrate how emerging scientific approaches to treating respiratory diseases such as COPD offer great hope to improve and save the lives of future patients.”

America’s biopharmaceutical researchers are exploring various new ways to attack COPD. Examples of such approaches include:

  • An adult stem cell therapy that targets a protein in the blood that is often elevated in COPD.
  • A monoclonal antibody that acts on IL-1 receptors involved in inflammatory conditions.
  • A medicine that targets the underlying inflammation in COPD.

More than 120,000 Americans die from COPD each year, making it the third leading cause of death in the U.S. In addition to the disability inflicted upon millions of patients, COPD costs the nation approximately $49.9 billion annually, including direct and indirect healthcare costs, according to the NIH.

While smoking is the main risk factor for COPD, and nearly 90 percent of COPD deaths are caused by smoking, other causes include air pollution, second-hand smoke, occupational dusts and chemicals, hereditary and childhood respiratory infections.

America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are devoted to the discovery and development of medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. In fact, the biopharmaceutical sector invests roughly eight times the estimated R&D spending per employee in all manufacturing industries. This commitment to R&D helps to save and improve lives of patients around the world, promote American jobs and strengthen the U.S. economy.


The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $49.4 billion in 2010 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $67.4 billion in 2010.

Find PhRMA Online:

For information on how innovative medicines save lives, visit: http://www.innovation.org
For information on the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, visit: http://www.pparx.org
For information on ensuring the flow of medicines during public health emergencies, visit http://www.rxresponse.org

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