Researchers are questioning the 2% cutoff for blood eosinophil count as a marker for gauging COPD patients’ response to steroid treatments, reports MedPage Today.

In the journal Chest, Samy Suissa, MD, and Ernst Pierre, MD, both of McGill University in Montreal, argued in favor of a higher cut-off point, noting that treatment based on a >4% blood eosinophil count, measured as a percentage of total white blood cell count, could prevent more than 100,000 inhaled corticosteroid (ICS)-related hospitalizations annually in the United States alone.

“The current use of ICS in the treatment of COPD, currently estimated to be given to over 70% of patients, could be reduced to target the patients who would receive greater benefit than harm,” the COPD researchers wrote. “For the estimated 8 million American patients with COPD treated with ICS, such a precision medicine approach could provide a net benefit to an estimated 2 million who would respond to these drugs by reducing hospitalizations by 60,000.”