The latest evidence revealed that dupilumab, an interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-13 (IL-13) blocker, significantly reduces the exacerbation risk in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The efficacy of dupilumab compared with conventional inhaled drugs remains incompletely determined. This study aimed to investigate the comparative efficacy of dupilumab and conventional inhaled drugs in patients with stable COPD.

Material and methods:
This study retrieved randomised clinical trials (RCTs) with follow-up ≥ 48 weeks on long-acting β-agonists (LABAs), long-acting muscarinic receptor antagonists (LAMAs), inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs), and dupilumab in the PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases. The information on eligible studies was extracted after the screening. The comparative efficacy of 4 drugs and their combinations in acute exacerbation and mortality was assessed using Bayesian network meta-analysis models.

This network meta-analysis identified 69 eligible RCTs on 7 classes of drug therapies after stepwise screening and included 125,331 COPD patients. Compared with placebo, the 7 drug interventions significantly reduced the risk of acute exacerbation, and the reduction degree increased with the incremental use of drug classes. ICS/LABA/LAMA/dupilumab was the most effective in decreasing exacerbation risk (OR = 0.561 [95% CI: 0.387–0.810]), followed by ICS/LABA/LAMA (OR = 0.717 [95% CI: 0.626–0.817]). The 7 drug therapies were not significantly associated with a lower risk of death compared to placebo. Nevertheless, ICS/LABA/LAMA/dupilumab is the most likely to be effective in decreasing mortality.

The incremental use of combinations of conventional and novel drugs contributed to the long-term benefits in acute exacerbation but not death in COPD. The optimal drug combination in terms of acute COPD exacerbation was ICS/LABA/LAMA/dupilumab.

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