Ipratropium bromide versus long-acting beta-2 agonists for stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Sarah Appleton, Terry Jones, Phillippa Poole, Toby J. Lasserson, Robert Adams, Brian Smith, Julia Muhammad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


This review looks at studies that compare the regular use for at least four weeks of different types of bronchodilator medicine (long acting beta‐2 agonist medicines and ipratropium) in people with stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, or emphysema/chronic bronchitis).

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition associated with high morbidity, mortality and cost to the community. Patients often report symptomatic improvement with long acting beta‐2 agonists (LABAs) and anticholinergic bronchodilator medications (ipratropium). These medications have different mechanisms of action and therefore theoretically could have an additive effect when combined. As these medications are prescribed in COPD as long term therapy, it is important to know what benefit there are, if any, of prescribing ipratropium alone or as combination therapy over LABAs. Seven studies (2652 participants) were included. Salmeterol was more effective than ipratropium on lung function, but there were no major differences seen between the responses to ipratropium and salmeterol on symptoms. When we compared the combination of these two drugs with salmeterol, combination was superior to salmeterol in terms of quality of life, but the differences between these two treatments on other measurements were small and inconsistent. The findings of the review would not support a general recommendation for the use of ipratropium bromide over a beta‐2 agonist alone in COPD, but the combination does confer greater benefit in health status. At this stage, people with COPD should use the bronchodilator that gives them the most improvement in their symptoms. Combination therapy should be considered, but the relative effects of this therapy in relation to other forms of inhaled therapy such as inhaled steroids and tiotropium are unknown. Cost considerations also need to be taken into account as there are considerable variations in price of bronchodilators.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD006101
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2006


  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • bronchodilators
  • long term therapy


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