New study results may help African American patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) breathe a little easier. Results reveal that treatment with the  inhalation powder tiotropium bromide is significantly improving lung function in COPD patients of African decent.  These findings come as a breakthrough in medicine for a population that has been under-represented in clinical trials and tends to respond differently to treatment than Caucasians do. "These data are an important contribution establishing tiotroprium as an effective treatment in patients of African descent," says Dr. Gerald J. Criner of the Temple University Hospital Lung Center. 

COPD is primarily a disease of current and former smokers. Nearly 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, but as many as 24 million may have impaired lung function.  While people of African descent represent less than 10% of COPD patients, they appear to be more susceptible to developing severe disease at a younger age despite similar levels of smoking.