Locals part of COPD studies

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 3, 2014


Chronic respiratory disease is among the leading causes of death in the United States, but research being done in Andalusia could help improve the statistics.

Local pulmonologist Dr. Rob Garver and his staff have been doing clinical research studies since early 2013, specifically in treatments for COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

To date, he said, the research as been successful.

“We are enrolling subjects to continue ongoing research in four studies,” he said. “We have two others starting in next couple of months.”

In one of the studies, there are 170 testing sites in the United States. Dr. Garver’s study is among the Top 10 sites for number of people enrolled.

Pharmaceutical companies and health care providers are interested in developing new treatments, he said, both because of the prevalence, and because exacerbations of the disease can require hospitalization, which can be expensive.

Additionally, he said, some patients have diminished lung function with each exacerbation.

COPD is characterized by shortness of breathe, cough and sputum, wheezing, lower oxygen levels, and chest pain. It also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Locally, Dr. Garver and his research team perform special lung function tests, collect sputum, and prepare the samples for research analysis. This week, the major pharmaceutical company sponsoring one of the studies sent two people from Great Britain to train the staff on specific methods used. Contractually, he cannot disclose the name of the major pharmaceutical company with which he is working.

Garver said he has recruited research subjects from his own patient population, and two other doctors have referred additional patients to him.

While research is going on all over the country, the number of research sites is skewed to the Southeast because the prevalence of COPD is higher here, Garver said.

Through his participation in the research, he said, he has seen promise from a new inhalant for treating COPD that slows the progression of cardiovascular disease, as well as successful treatment with a new medication used in a nebulizer.

Those who are affected by COPD and are interested in participating in the research may contact Garver’s office at 334.830.4551.

The research has become such a large part of his practice, he said, he needs to add 2,000 square feet to his office, located adjacent to Darby’s Medical Center Pharmacy on South Three Notch.