Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common diseases a GP has to manage in their daily routine. The BMJ has recently set a focus on COPD management.

Shawn D Aaron draws attention to the fact that patients with COPD are prone to acute respiratory exacerbations, with a possible detrimental effect on patients’ health status, in a state of the art review. Initial treatment is unsuccessful in about a quarter off all patients. The author addresses the benefits and many limitations of established COPD therapies.

His final outlook is that new potential drugs—including mitogen activated protein kinase inhibitors, phosphodiesterase 3 inhibitors, and monoclonal antibodies to the interleukin 1 receptor—offer additional hope for treatments that may prevent exacerbations in the future.