Roflumilast is a selective once daily, oral phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor that has recently been registered in all European Union countries as novel targeted therapy for COPD, while FDA approval for the USA market is expected in 2011. In several phase III trials in patients with moderate to (very) severe COPD and in patients with symptoms of chronic bronchitis and recurrent exacerbations, roflumilast showed sustained clinical efficacy by improving lung function and by reducing exacerbation rates. These beneficial effects have also been demonstrated when added to long-acting bronchodilators (both LABA and LAMA), underscoring the anti-inflammatory activity of roflumilast in COPD. Pooled data analysis showed overall mild to moderate, mostly self-limiting adverse events, mainly consisting of nausea, diarrhea and weight loss. In this review we discuss the results of the 4 registration studies showing promising effects of roflumilast in COPD and provide an overview of the topics that still need to be addressed.

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Pulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

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