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The main ingredient in AstraZeneca's inhaler treatment Pulmicort may help against the development of emphysema and other forms of lung disease, according to new research conducted on smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Data revealed that Pulmicort's active ingredient, budesonide, shows a 50 percent slower decline in lung density in smokers with COPD, compared to patients taking a placebo. The trial was carried out on 254 smokers with moderate to severe COPD, who were followed for two to four years, during which their lung density was measured.
It is estimated that there are 600 million COPD sufferers worldwide, making it the world's fourth-leading cause of death. Emphysema, a condition in which lungs are irreversibly and permanently over-inflated, is a form of COPD.
AstraZeneca also markets the inhaler Symbicort for COPD, which combines Pulmicort's budesonide with a long-lasting bronchodilator, formoterol.
The company plans to launch Symbicort, which has experienced strong growth in Europe, in the U.S. for the treatment of asthma later this year.