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Verona's COPD drug improves lung function, supporting advancement to phase 3

Verona Pharma PLC's chronic obstructive pulmonary disease treatment improved lung function when used in combination with the standard of care therapy for the condition, netting the main goal of a mid-stage clinical trial.

The U.K. pharmaceutical company tested nebulized ensifentrine in combination with Boehringer Ingelheim Corp.'s Spiriva Respimat, or tiotropium, inhaler, in patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

COPD is a group of progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and refractory asthma that cause breathlessness. The disease is common in people aged 65 or older, in current or former smokers, and people with a history of asthma.

The phase 2b trial featured 416 patients over four weeks to test the addition of ensifentrine to a regimen of Spiriva Respimat against placebo. Ensifentrine met the main goal of the trial by improving lung function in the patients over placebo for the four weeks of the trial. Patients also saw improved quality of life, and the therapy was well tolerated.

Verona said the results support advancement of ensifentrine to a phase 3 trial.