It was good news for GlaxoSmithKline yesterday after a long-term study clearly demonstrated the benefits of using a combination of Avodart and tamsulosin in the treatment of men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

BPH or enlarged prostate affects more than 50% of men aged over 50 years, and while the condition is not life-threatening if left untreated it can lead to surgery or acute urinary retention (AUR), leaving the patient unable to urinate properly.

Both Avodart (dutasteride) and tamsulosin have long been approved in Europe but findings from the large scale, four-year CombAT trial - sponsored by GSK – now shows for the first time that a combination of these drugs cut the risk of AUR or BPH-related surgery as well as the risk of the condition’s clinical progression more than Flomax alone.

Data published online in the journal European Urology showed a substantial 66% reduction in the risk of AUR or BPH-related surgery with the combination treatment compared to tamsulosin alone (which, unlike GSK’s drug, is not specifically approved for these indications) and a 20% cut versus Avodart monotherapy.

Furthermore, the combo also slashed the risk of BPH clinical progression by 44% vs tamsulosin and 31% compared to Avodart, and men given the mix also experienced a higher degree of symptom improvement (-6.3 points from baseline) than those receiving either drug alone (-3.8 for tamsulosin and -5.3 for dutasteride), as measured by the International Prostate Symptom Score.

First approved in Europe in 2002, Avodart works to delay disease progression by inhibits DHT (dihydrotestosterone) – the primary cause of prostate growth – and shrinking the prostate, and has also recently shown potential in reducing the risk of prostate cancer.

According to headline results of the REduction by DUtasteride of prostate Cancer Events (REDUCE) trial published in the Spring of this year, the drug cut the risk of prostate cancer in men aged between 50 and 75 with elevated levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) – a marker for the disease – by a significant 23% over four years.