The American Thoracic Society (ATS) is addressing the need for a more efficient, patient-friendly way to boost chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) awareness and knowledge through a specially designed educational program, in collaboration with Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the company behind 9 FDA-approved drugs for a number of respiratory conditions and disorders of the central nervous system. This initiative falls under ATS’ series of programs targeting pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine.
COPD affects roughly 15 million Americans today, with no signs of a decrease in prevalence any time soon. This group of diseases, in their early stages, are frequently ignored by 50% of older adults, thinking their breathlessness is merely a sign of aging. Every year, COPD claims over 130,000 lives, ranking 3rd in today’s leading causes of death in America.
The joint-venture will feature a patient guidebook that includes a 15-minute DVD that recounts the inspirational stories of 3 COPD patients’ battle with the disease, and of former professional football player and Hall-of-Fame inductee Darrell Green, who has experienced being the primary caregiver of a COPD patient in his family.
“I’m excited to work with the American Thoracic Society and Sunovion to help COPD patients understand how they can manage their symptoms, stay active and improve their health,” said Green, who is a legendary professional football player and COPD advocate. “Receiving my aunt’s COPD diagnosis was overwhelming for my family and there was a lot to figure out, but over time, we learned the best ways to help her manage the impact the disease had on her life. Now, I look forward to helping others tackle COPD and learn through this program.”
The educational program’s structure and contents were developed by some of the most prominent pulmonologists in the country, and are now available for members of the society to disseminate in local health facilities, doctor’s clinics, as well as online. In fact, the ATS brought these educational materials to the yearly conference of the American College of Chest Physicians, just in time to bolster efforts against the disease this month of November for COPD Awareness Month.
According to ATS President, Dr. Tom Ferkol, while there may not be a known cure for COPD, it is still one of the more manageable pulmonary diseases today. The ATS is committed to sharing the latest updates and recommendations on COPD from diagnosis, to lifestyle modifications, and caregiver support, for the purpose of improving patients’ quality of life amidst this chronic, debilitating disease.