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Data published today in The International Journal of COPD from a global survey conducted by GSK suggest that while physicians believe that the long-term health outlook for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has improved compared to ten years ago, patients still face significant challenges complying with their medication regimens and, in some countries, accessing preferred treatments, which could result in sub-optimal management.1,2

COPD affects 210 million people worldwide and represents a significant social and economic burden.3

GSK’s ‘Continuing to Confront COPD International Survey’ involved 4,343 patients and 1,307 physicians from 12 countries around the world. It was undertaken to update our understanding of COPD prevalence, disease burden, and patient and physician attitudes towards the disease, and assess how much progress has been made since the original landmark Confronting COPD Survey more than a decade ago.4

In the latest published findings, 79% of physicians surveyed reported that they believe the long-term health outlook for patients with COPD has improved compared to a decade ago.1 The most common reasons given for the improved outlook were ‘better medications for COPD’ (86%) and ‘increased smoking cessation/less passive smoking’ (28%).1 Despite this view, a large proportion of physicians (79%) still felt that their patients find it difficult to cope with the disease.1

The survey also revealed that many patients struggle to fully adhere to their COPD treatment regimens, with only 15% of physicians reporting that more than three-quarters of their patients were fully compliant.1 Physicians considered ‘poor inhaler technique’ (60%); ‘low patient education/poor understanding of the disease’ (57%) and ‘difficulties in managing multiple dosing regimens’ (52%) to be the main factors behind this, reinforcing the need for more simplified treatment options.1

In addition, many patients have difficulty gaining access to appropriate COPD treatment, with 7% of physicians reporting that more than half of their patients could not access preferred treatments, and only 30% stating that none of their patients had any issues accessing the treatments they prescribed.1

“GSK has a 40-year heritage in respiratory disease, and is committed to investing in landmark studies to further our understanding in the area. Our original survey was the first COPD cross-national, population-based survey of its kind more than a decade ago, and this update has provided new insights as to how the disease and its management have evolved,” said Kourtney Davis, PhD, GSK’s lead global epidemiologist on the survey.

“While it is encouraging that the availability of better treatments for COPD and improved education appear to be linked to better patient outcomes, our findings suggest there remains a need for novel ways to support patients in coping with this chronic and burdensome disease, particularly in terms of improving access to optimal treatment, including smoking cessation, increasing patient engagement and adherence, and supporting healthcare providers”, Davis added.  

Further insights from the study include physician awareness of and compliance with COPD guidelines and the role of spirometry in COPD diagnosis.2 Physicians were familiar with COPD guidelines, but did not consistently treat in concordance with the GOLD treatment strategy.2

The latest findings from the ‘Continuing to Confront COPD International Survey’ are published in two papers in the current issue of The International Journal of COPD. An earlier paper published in the same journal in 2014 focused on describing the prevalence and burden of COPD in 2012-2013 and how these have changed over the past decade.5

About the ‘Continuing to Confront COPD International Survey’

The ‘Continuing to Confront COPD International Survey’ is a follow-up to GSK’s original survey of the COPD environment conducted more than a decade ago. The two-pronged study surveyed 4,343 patients and 1,307 physicians around the globe to more fully understand the disease and its management. The countries involved in the survey included Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, UK and US.

About COPD

COPD is a disease of the lungs that includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema or both. COPD is characterised by obstruction to airflow that interferes with normal breathing. COPD is thought to affect 210 million people worldwide.3

Long-term exposure to lung irritants that damage the lungs and the airways are usually the cause of COPD. Cigarette smoke, breathing in second-hand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes or dust from the environment or workplace can all contribute to COPD. Most people who have COPD are at least 40 years old when symptoms begin.6

GSK – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please our about us section.

Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements

GSK cautions investors that any forward-looking statements or projections made by GSK, including those made in this announcement, are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Such factors include, but are not limited to, those described under Item 3.D ‘Risk factors’ in the company’s Annual Report on Form 20-F for 2013.


1.   Menezes AM, Landis SH, Han MK, et al.  Continuing to Confront COPD International Surveys: comparison of patient and physician perceptions about COPD risk and management. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2015; 10:159-172

2.   Davis KJ, Landis SH, Oh Y-M, et al. Continuing to Confront COPD International Physician Survey: physician knowledge and application of COPD management guidelines in 12 countries. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2015;10: 39-55

3.   World Health Organization. Chronic Respiratory Diseases. Accessed November 2014. Available at:

4.   Rennard S, Decramer M, Caverley PMA, et al. Impact of COPD on North America and Europe in 2000: subjects’ perspectives of Confronting COPD International Survey. Eur Resp J 2002;20:799-805

5.   Landis SH, Muellerova H, Mannino DM, Menezes AM, Han MK, van der Molen T, Ichinose M, Aisanov Z, Oh YM, Davis KJ. Continuing to Confront COPD International Patient Survey: methods, COPD prevalence, and disease burden in 2012–2013. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2014;9:597-611

6.   National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Who is at risk for COPD? Accessed November 2014. Available at:

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