A previous meta-analysis suggested that the treatment with erdosteine was associated with significant amelioration of the cumulative global efficacy index and symptoms in comparison to placebo or other mucolytics. However, this conclusion was criticized because the meta-analysis, as it had been done, made it impossible to preclude the potential operation of selection biases within and across trials, and identify any realised benefits of an individual patient data approach. Taking into consideration these criticisms and also the publication of two further recent articles focused on the prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations with erdosteine, we have carried out a quantitative synthesis via meta-analysis of the currently available data on the use of this drug. Our findings included data from ten studies involving 1278 patients and show that erdosteine is able to improve the clinical score of patients with chronic bronchitis and COPD, and also reduces the overall risk of chronic bronchitis/COPD exacerbations, and reduces the risk of experiencing at least one exacerbation. Furthermore, our data suggest that erdosteine can lengthen the time to the first COPD exacerbation, reduce the duration of a COPD exacerbation and the risk of hospitalization from COPD. The documented effect of erdosteine in reducing the occurence and/or influencing COPD exacerbations is important because it indicates that erdosteine can be added to the list of drugs that can be recommended for treating COPD.
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