The benefits of long-term systemic antimicrobial therapy in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

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Acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD) are major contributors to the morbidity and mortality associated with this disease. Current approaches that likely reduce chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations include smoking cessation, influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations, long-acting bronchodilator and inhaled corticosteroid therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, and mucolytic drugs. However, with optimal treatment using all of these modalities, we are only able to reduce exacerbations by about 40%. A significant proportion of COPD exacerbations are bacterial, therefore long-term antimicrobial therapy could have a role in preventing exacerbations. Long-term antibiotic treatment in COPD regimens that are being evaluated include low-dose macrolide therapy, pulsed fluoroquinolone administration and the use of inhaled antibiotics. Although initial results have been promising with significant reductions in exacerbations with these regimens, additional studies are required to identify the appropriate patient and regimen and elucidate the risk-benefit as well as cost effectiveness of long-term antibiotics in COPD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-216
Number of pages10
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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