Boehringer Ingelheim and GlaxoSmithKline back EFA's call for urgent improvements in care for people with lung disease

Boehringer IngelheimBoehringer Ingelheim and GSK, companies with a strong heritage in COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and a commitment to improved patient care, have announced their support of The European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients' Associations' (EFA) call for urgent improvement in the care of people with COPD. To coincide with World COPD Day 2009, EFA has published a comprehensive overview of COPD in Europe, the EFA Book on COPD in Europe: Sharing and Caring which highlights local successes and serious shortfalls in the way the disease is diagnosed and managed.

COPD is a chronic lung disease associated with a high level of mortality. According to the latest World Health Orgainzation (WHO) estimates, 210 million people suffer from COPD and it currently ranks as the fourth leading cause of death. However, the WHO predicts that it will become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030.(1) In 2005 COPD was estimated to have killed over 3 million people(2) - more than HIV/AIDS or lung and breast cancer combined.(1,3) Despite this, COPD remains a scarcely known, under-diagnosed and under-treated disease that demands a changed approach to diagnosis and treatment.4 Fewer than half of patients with the condition have a proper diagnosis and only 35% of patients receive a regular prescribed medication.(5,6)

These issues, among others, have been highlighted by EFA who collected European data for the first time from patient groups` perspectives and are now calling for more to be done to reduce the burden of COPD and improve patient care. Over 11 million Europeans are affected by COPD and face its debilitating consequences on a daily basis.(7)

EFA's book recognises that even in its early stages, COPD has a devastating impact on patients' quality of life as it begins to damage the lungs irreversibly causing sufferers to struggle for breath and with simple daily tasks.(8) In addition, patients are frustrated about the difficulty in gaining effective management of their condition including early diagnosis, education, support services and access to the best treatments available. The goal of EFA's efforts in the coming months will be to reduce the impact of COPD on patients and their caregivers and to focus efforts on a call to action for real improvements.

BI and GSK, who sponsored the project, support EFA's conclusion that there is an urgent need for a coordinated strategy of advocacy both at European and national level. To improve overall COPD management, the following four areas of focus were identified:

  • Increase the awareness of the public at large about COPD, its symptoms and risk factors in order to prevent the disease and to encourage sufferers to seek early diagnosis
  • Raise the priority of COPD with policy makers to encourage the creation of screening guidelines and mandates for early diagnosis and management of the disease
  • Improve the access to care and management for diagnosed COPD patients
  • Safeguard the respiratory health of future generations.

The development and publication of the EFA Book on COPD in Europe: Sharing and Caring has been funded by an educational grant from Boehringer Ingelheim and GlaxoSmithKline. It aims to: Inform policy makers (EU and national) about COPD thereby prompting action where necessary Encourage healthcare professionals to collaborate with patient organisations to increase diagnosis, assessment and treatment of COPD patients Raise the awareness and prioritisation of this disabling disease.

About Boehringer Ingelheim
The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world's 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, it operates globally with 138 affiliates in 47 countries and 41,300 employees. Since it was founded in 1885, the independent, family-owned company has been committed to researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing novel products of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.

In 2008, Boehringer Ingelheim posted net sales of 11.6 billion euro while spending one fifth of net sales in its largest business segment Prescription Medicines on research and development.

GlaxoSmithKline - 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.

1. World Health Organization. Immunizations, Vaccines and Biologicals Available from: (last accessed 12th November 2009).
2- World Health Organization. COPD Available from: accessed 2nd November 2009).
3- World Health Organization. Factsheet 297 Cancer Available from: (last accessed 12th November 2009).
4. Wouters EFM. Economic analysis of the Confronting COPD survey: an overview of results. Respiratory Medicine 2003; 97:S3-S14.
5. Mannino DM, Homa DM, Akinbami LJ, et al. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease surveillance. United States, 1971-2000. MMWR Surveill Summ 2002; 51: 1-16.
6. National Library for Health. National Knowledge Week for COPD 2008 – Raising awareness of lung disease. Accessed 22 October 2008.
7. World Health Organization. Global Burden of Disease Report 2004. Part 3. Available from: (last accessed 12th November 2009).
8. World Health Organization. Factsheet 315 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Available from: (last accessed 2nd November 2009).