Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee of the COPD Foundation Releases Statement in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine

January 10, 2024

COPD is a major public health problem that remains largely neglected

MIAMI & NEW YORK, (January 10, 2024) - The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical journal, has published a statement by the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee of the COPD Foundation, shedding light on the state of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and advocating for action to address the burden of this often-overlooked public health crisis.

The statement emphasizes the oversight of COPD on an unprecedented scale, with patients, health care providers, payers, and funders largely neglecting the issue. According to the report, COPD is the third leading cause of death, with over 3 million deaths worldwide in 2019. In the United States alone, approximately 27 million adults are estimated to have airflow obstruction, with 19.5 million remaining undiagnosed.

"COPD has long been in the shadows," said Surya P Bhatt, M.D., professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham and one of the authors of the statement. "Our hope is that this statement serves as a catalyst for change, urging health care communities, policy makers, and the public to address the challenges of COPD. Through increased research, awareness, and strategic policy initiatives, we can significantly improve the lives of those affected by COPD and reduce the burden of the disease."

The COPD Foundation Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee outlines various challenges contributing to underdiagnosis, including the association of COPD with cigarette smoking, the lack of recognition of risk factors other than smoking, societal stigma, and non-specific symptoms often attributed to factors such as old age, obesity, or smoking. The absence of public policies for screening, insufficient research investment, and a prevailing sense of pessimism further compound the problem.

The statement emphasizes the urgency of accurately diagnosing individuals with COPD, a crucial step in reducing the burden of the disease. Despite the challenges, the report underscores the importance of distinguishing between screening and case finding, with evidence suggesting that treating adults with mild airflow obstruction can result in significant health benefits.

The publication in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine is a call to action for increased awareness, research, and policy development to address the challenges associated with COPD detection. The hope is that this statement will prompt collaborative efforts among healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public to advance the understanding and management of COPD on a global scale.

Authors of the statement include:

Surya P Bhatt, M.D., M.S.P.H.
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham

Richard Casaburi, M.D., PhD
Associate Chief of Research, Professor, Division of Respiratory and Critical Care Physiology & Medicine
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
Torrance, CA

Bartolome R Celli, M.D.
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Boston, MA

Bruce E Miller, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
COPD Foundation

Nirupama Putcha, M.D., MHS
Associate Professor of Medicine
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD

Jean Rommes, PhD
Patient Representative
West Des Moines, IA

Mark T Dransfield, M.D.
Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, & Critical Care Medicine
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham

To read the full article, visit The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. For more information about COPD or the COPD Foundation, visit

About the COPD Foundation
The COPD Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help millions of people live longer and healthier lives by advancing research, advocacy, and awareness to stop COPD, bronchiectasis, and NTM lung disease. The Foundation does this through scientific research, education, advocacy, and awareness to prevent disease, slow progression, and find a cure. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee of the COPD Foundation
MASAC membership is comprised of the Chairs of the COPD Foundation's various Working Groups and Advisory Committees, and representatives of the research, clinical and bioethics communities. The committee is intended to represent the variety of expertise associated with COPD Foundation research or clinical care, and includes representatives of the lung community, clinical science, genetics, and the social sciences (bioethics, economics, and/or law).

Crystal RothhaarM
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