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Spiriva - A Patient's Perspective

Note: The information below is a first hand account on Spiriva, which was sent to our e-mail list May 21, 2003 by Danny from NC . He had been on Spiriva for about three months.


I am a 56 year old who was diagnosed with severe emphysema in March 2000.  I had been complaining to my internist about SOB for some time when I became very ill with pneumonia, infection, etc.  Had chest x-ray and Spirometer tests and was diagnosed at that time. 

Of course I was angry and disappointed in my doctor and myself so I began to seek a pulmonary doctor immediately.  Obtained a pulmonary doctor quickly and was treated by him for 1 year at which time he elected to stop his one-man practice.  Treatments consisted of the usual - Albuterol, Atrovent, Flovent, Uniphyl, and encouragement to stop smoking.  I did stop smoking in October of that year after 35 years of the habit. 

When this pulmo stopped his practice, I had two choices - I could go back to my GP or go to another clinic.  Of course I made the wrong decision and went back to my GP.  I continued to go there for another year with all the same treatments and finally decided it was time I go back to a pulmonary doctor. 

I obtained a pulmonary doctor in January of 2002.  I am still a patient at this clinic but will be changing doctors again due to my current pulmo transferring to a different clinic out of town.  I was taking Albuterol (occasionally), Combivent (4/day), Pulmicort (1/day), Foradil (2/day), uniphyl (300 mg - 1/day), Actonel (for osteo), Zoloft (anti-depression), neurontin (muscle relaxant), daily multiple vitamin, caltrate +D. 

I started taking Spiriva in mid February of 2003.  At the time I started Spiriva, the Combivent was discontinued.  The Spiriva is a once per day dose and the Combivent was four times per day dose.  This is a benefit within itself. It took about 5 weeks before I noted much difference in my condition because it happened sort of inconspicuously for me.  That may be due possibly to the severity of my emphysema.  Last check on FEV1 for me was 34% in February of 2002 and 31% in June of 2002.  I don't know what my FEV1 is just now.  I do know that I can do a little more than I was able to before Spiriva.  Still must go slow (pace), maintain positive attitude, and not overdo. 

There is a definitive improvement in being SOB with Spiriva.  My medications are the same as prior to Spiriva except I do not take Combivent now.

Of course Spiriva is not yet approved in the USA but has been recommended for approval by FDA panel.  Hopes are for it to be approved mid-year.  I get my Spiriva from Canada with my docs prescription.  In my opinion, Spiriva is a great medication and I would do it all over again.  As a matter of fact, I have received my 2nd 90 day supply. 

I recommend it to anyone with COPD.  Of course this is just my opinion.

Danny in North Carolina

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