Nycomed has begun the global market launch of its new chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Daxas, starting off in Germany.

The European Commission granted marketing authorisation for Daxas (roflumilast), an oral, once-daily phosphodiesterase 4 enzyme inhibitor, in June and Nycomed noted that it is the first new substance class in the area of COPD in more than a decade. The drug is indicated for maintenance treatment of severe COPD associated with chronic bronchitis in adults with a history of frequent exacerbations as an add-on to bronchodilator treatment.

Stefan Brinkmann, managing director of Nycomed in Germany noted that there are 700,000 patients in the country and claimed that Daxas represents "a success story for the German pharmaceutical industry". The product was researched and developed at the firm's facility in Konstanz and will be produced in Oranienburg to supply the global market. Some 60 new jobs have been created in the last year alone at the latter site.

According to World Health Organisation, 80 million people have moderate to severe COPD worldwide and more than 3 million people died from the disease in 2005. The WHO predicts that total deaths from COPD could increase by more than 30% in the next 10 years.

Nycomed quoted Helgo Magnussen at the Grosshansdorf Hospital's Centre for Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery as saying that "there is indeed a great need for new COPD treatment options". He adds that medications that are currently available "have limited therapy success rates" and "no existing therapies slow the progression of COPD or inhibit infections of the bronchioles or pulmonary tissue". Prof Magnussen went on to say that Daxas offers "a completely new pharmacological approach and makes a real contribution to improve current COPD treatment".

Daxas will be launched in eight other European countries and Canada by the end of this year and will be jointly marketed with Merck Sharp and Dohme. It will compete with Boehringer Ingelheim/Pfizer’s Spiriva (tiotropium), GlaxoSmithKline's Advair/Seretide (salmeterol and fluticasone) and AstraZeneca’s Symbicort (budesonide/formoterol).