Rising Pulmonary Disease Cases Among Smokers Spurs New Drug Company Rivalry

Drugmakers go head-to-head with new treatments

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Lung diseases are on the rise, due in part to an increase in the number of smokers in emerging markets, like China.

The market for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease medicines, already worth $10 billion this year, is expected to rise to $14 billion in 2018, Bloomberg reports.

That has led pharmaceutical giants Novartis AG  and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to duke it out for a share of the market, with the former’s new treatment, Ultibro, taking on GSK’s Advair, a drug already used to treat asthma.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease afflicts smokers. It includes conditions like chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and claims a life every 10 seconds, according to the World Health Organization.

Globally, the number of smokers is in decline but the number of cases of pulmonary disease continues to rise due to the delay in symptoms manifesting and an increase in the number of smokers in developing countries such as China.