GlaxoSmithKline and partner Theravance have begun a Phase III trial looking at a triple therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The study will evaluate a once-daily 'closed' triple combination of the corticosteroid fluticasone furoate, umeclidinium, a long-acting muscarinic antagonist and vilanterol, a long-acting beta2- agonist. The 10,000-patient trial will investigate whether the FF/UMEC/VI combo, delivered through GSK’s Ellipta inhaler, can reduce the annual rate of moderate and severe exacerbations compared with two of the company’s already-approved once-daily COPD treatments, Relvar/Breo (FF/VI) and Anoro Ellipta (UMEC/VI)

Dave Allen, head of respiratory R&D at GSK, said that “we recognised the need to offer a range of molecules that could be co-formulated in different combinations to meet the needs of individual patients”. Furthermore, “we know from the scientific literature and prescribing data that there are already COPD patients who receive three medicines in different inhalers, for whom a once-daily treatment in a single 'closed' device could be valuable”.

Dr Allen concluded by saying that the study, called IMPACT, will be important in advancing our understanding of how the combination of FF/UMEC/VI could be used in this setting when compared to dual combination therapy options”.

In the highly competitive COPD market, having a triple therapy delivered in as single device would significantly strengthen GSK’s already-strong position  in this area.