Ventavis Can Treat PH in People with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Study Reports

Marta Figueiredo, PhD avatar

by Marta Figueiredo, PhD |

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A single-dose of Ventavis (inhaled iloprost) is safe and effective in treating pulmonary hypertension (PH) associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), with greatest efficacy seen in patients with severe PH, a study by researchers in China reports.

The study “Hemodynamic and gas exchange effects of inhaled iloprost in patients with COPD and pulmonary hypertension” was published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

As COPD progresses, patients show decreasing oxygen levels in the blood, which may activate a protective mechanism known as hypoxic vasoconstriction. This mechanism is meant to increase the amount of oxygen transferred to the blood, but chronic hypoxic vasoconstriction can lead to PH.

More than half of COPD patients are known to develop PH (COPD-PH). To date, the only treatment shown to slow or reverse disease progression is long-term oxygen therapy.

Vasodilators are commonly used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). However, in patients with COPD, vasodilators may block hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction and impair gas exchange.

Researchers think that vasodilator administration via inhalation might overcome this problem. Ventavis, marketed by Actelion, is an inhaled, potent vasodilator used to treat PAH, making it a potential treatment for PH associated with COPD.

Researchers aimed to analyze the short-term effects of a single dose of Ventavis in a Chinese population with COPD-PH. The single-center, open-label study evaluated the effects of Ventavis on hemodynamic parameters, hypoxic vasoconstriction, gas exchange, and side effects in 67 patients with COPD-PH. Of these, 37 patients had severe PH.

The hemodynamic parameters evaluated were mean pulmonary artery pressure, pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR), and volume of blood being pumped by the heart.

Results showed that a single dose of inhaled Ventavis led to a substantial improvement in hemodynamic parameters, without compromising hypoxic vasoconstriction and gas exchange. A greater decrease in PVR was observed in COPD patients with severe PH compared to those with non-severe PH.

The results suggest that “patients with severe COPD-PH might respond better to this therapy than individuals with nonsevere COPD-PH,” the team wrote.

No serious adverse events were reported, showing that Ventavis was well-tolerated by the patients.

Based on the results, the team concluded that “iloprost [Ventavis] improved pulmonary hemodynamics without detrimental effects on arterial oxygenation in patients with COPD-PH, even in those with severe PH. These findings suggest that the short-term use of iloprost in patients with COPD-PH is effective and well tolerated.”

Longer studies, however, “are needed to assess the long-term benefits of iloprost treatment” in these patients, the researchers added.