The American Thoracic Society (ATS) and Sunovion Pharmaceuticals today announced the results of a survey of pulmonologists and pulmonology fellows to determine physicians’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) management, with particular attention to the use of hand-held small volume nebulizers.

This study is the first of two separate landmark studies focused on attitudes and experiences related to these devices. The results of the second study, seeking similar insights from COPD patients including users of hand-held small volume nebulizers, will be published in the future.

“We realized there was no baseline information about the level of knowledge and comfort pulmonologists have with using hand-held small volume nebulizers, which inhalation medicines and devices are most appropriate for which patients, or even how comfortable doctors are in educating their patients about their use,” said Sidney Braman, MD, FCCP, professor of medicine, Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and lead author on the survey abstract presented at ATS. “We did not know what doctors felt they did and did not know. That’s why this is such a landmark study – it’s foundational.”

While there are well-established protocols for step-up care as COPD progresses, there are no guidelines to help physicians and patients determine the most appropriate delivery method for achieving an optimal clinical outcome.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • Seven in ten of those surveyed said they believe that hand-held small volume nebulizers are more effective than either a dry powder or metered-dose inhaler (DPI/MDI) in the management of acute exacerbations of COPD.
  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents also believe hand-held small volume nebulizers are more effective than DPI/MDI in treating those with severe COPD.
  • While 98% of healthcare providers surveyed reported that they are at least somewhat knowledgeable about treatment devices, only about half reported that they were extremely or very knowledgeable about treatment devices.
  • Approximately half of the respondents believed that hand-held small volume nebulizers are essential for some patients. Less than one-third said they were extremely/very knowledgeable about which patients should use them.
  • Seven in ten of those surveyed reported that they typically discuss how to use a device during a patient’s first visit, but only 20% felt they were extremely/very knowledgeable about how to clean and maintain hand-held small volume nebulizers to prevent infections. Less than 10% reported discussing with their patients how to clean and store devices.
  • More than four out of five respondents reported interest in receiving additional education about COPD treatment devices and would like to learn more about the various types of hand-held small volume nebulizers.

“Sunovion is committed to improving the lives of people with COPD and other serious medical conditions, and we are proud to partner with ATS on this project,” said Antony Loebel, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Sunovion. “This and the forthcoming patient survey will provide valuable insights into what doctors want to know about using hand- held small volume nebulizers when treating their patients with COPD. We hope that these data will contribute to educational programs, leading to informed treatment decisions and better outcomes for patients.”