DRIVE4COPD Makes Its Mark on American Health

100,000 People Screened for COPD Risk since February Launch

Jun 11, 2010, 10:00 ET from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

RIDGEFIELD, Conn., June 11 /PRNewswire/ -- In just four months since its launch, DRIVE4COPD has already encouraged more than 100,000 people to be screened to see if they may be at risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  The country's newest health initiative that aims to raise awareness of COPD in the hopes that people will talk to their doctor and get diagnosed instead of suffering in silence. Currently, half of the estimated 24 million Americans who may have COPD remain undiagnosed and untreated, and most are not diagnosed until they have lost half their lung function.

"Many people confuse common COPD symptoms, like shortness of breath or a cough that won't go away, with normal signs of aging and wait too long to see a doctor," said Brian Carlin, MD, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Drexel University School of Medicine. "Hopefully these first 100,000 people will be an inspiration for others to recognize the importance of finding out if they are risk."

To determine one's risk for COPD, people aged 35 and older can log onto DRIVE4COPD.COM and answer five brief questions on a validated screening tool.  If the screener indicates they may be at risk for COPD, the results should be printed and brought to their doctor to discuss.

Spearheaded by campaign ambassador and NASCAR Nationwide Series™ driver Danica Patrick, the DRIVE4COPD Race Team is in a year-long competition to screen the most people who may be at risk for COPD.  The Race Team includes Emmy-nominated actor Jim Belushi, Olympic Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner, Grammy Award-winning country music star Patty Loveless and Pro Football great Michael Strahan.  Each has a loved one who struggled with the disease.

"I couldn't believe it when I heard COPD was the fourth leading cause of death – it kills more people each year than diabetes and breast cancer combined," said Patrick, whose grandmother died of emphysema, a form of COPD. "I'm so grateful that my fans and their families have taken it seriously, taken the screener, and are helping to spread the word about DRIVE4COPD."

In addition to online screenings, the DRIVE4COPD campaign includes "Pit Stop" events across the country at NASCAR®-sanctioned races, state fairs, country music festivals and major sporting events.  Log onto DRIVE4COPD.COM to find upcoming Pit Stop locations.

DRIVE4COPD is led by Boehringer Ingelheim along with a powerful coalition of organizations including the American Lung Association, COPD Foundation and NASCAR®.  DRIVE4COPD is the Official Health Initiative of NASCAR.  

"It's inspiring to collaborate with so many great people dedicated to raising awareness of this progressive and deadly disease," said Chris Barrett, Senior Vice President at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "Every screener taken means another person may get the help they need by sharing their results with their healthcare provider."

Winner of Ultimate NASCAR® Weekend Announced

Of the 100,000 Americans who have been screened to date, one lucky participant won the Ultimate NASCAR® Weekend at the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ "Coke Zero 400," which takes place July 2-4, 2010. Chicago resident Karl R. took the screener at DRIVE4COPD.COM and is going to be taking his family with him to the race.  

"I wasn't really aware of COPD before I took the screener," said Karl.  "You don't hear about it as much as you hear about heart disease or cancer, but I'm glad to know that right now I am not at a high risk for COPD."

New Prizes Announced

People who take the five-question screener now have the option of entering to win one of two new prizes:

  • The Ultimate NASCAR® Weekend is a four-day/three-night trip for the winner and a guest, including tickets to the 2011 Daytona 500, plus VIP passes.*  
  • CMA Awards Trip Package: a three-day/two-night trip for the winner and a guest to attend the 2010 CMA Awards in Nashville, TN.**

More details about the complete winner's packages can be found at DRIVE4COPD.COM.

About COPD

Both types of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – chronic bronchitis and emphysema – make it harder to breathe because less air is able to flow in and out of the lungs.

As many as 24 million Americans may have COPD – even those who haven't smoked in years – and half of them remain undiagnosed. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. It kills one person every four minutes and more people each year than breast cancer and diabetes combined.

Common symptoms of COPD include coughing, with or without mucus, or shortness of breath. These symptoms are often confused with normal signs of aging. As COPD progresses, symptoms tend to get worse and more damage occurs in the lungs. Breathing gradually becomes more difficult until people with COPD feel like they are inhaling and exhaling through a small straw.

Because of its gradual onset, many patients are not diagnosed until they are hospitalized or require emergency care to treat the disease. By that time, their lungs may have already been critically damaged and they avoid activities that they used to enjoy because they become short of breath more easily. As such, COPD changes not only the life of the diagnosed person, but also of surrounding family and friends.

COPD can be managed to help people live and breathe easier. Early diagnosis of COPD is critical, as lung damage is not reversible but is treatable. Proper management of COPD is important to help patients breathe better, remain independent, prevent complications and exacerbations, and improve quality of life. Lifestyle changes like staying active and quitting smoking can help improve symptoms. Yet even when people are diagnosed with COPD, only half of them are prescribed treatment to help them breathe better.

COPD Screener

Given the underdiagnosis of COPD, there was a need for a reliable, self-scored questionnaire to identify individuals at risk for COPD.  The development of this questionnaire began with a list of items identified for inclusion by a clinician working group of 10 pulmonologists and primary care physicians.  A national survey of nearly 700 patients at 12 practitioner sites found five items that positively predicted airflow obstruction: breathlessness, productive cough, activity limitation, smoking history and age.  These five items became the COPD Population Screener™. The study validating this screener was published in April 2008 [Martinez, F. J., Raczek, A. E., Seifer, F. D., Conoscenti, C. S., Curtice, T. G. & D'Eletto, T., et al. Development and Initial Validation of a Self-Scored COPD Population Screener Questionnaire (COPD-PS). COPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, 5:2, 85-95].

DRIVE4COPD Partnering Organizations

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the founding sponsor of the campaign, has joined forces with a cross-section of organizations on DRIVE4COPD to bring COPD to the forefront including:

American Lung Association

Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit

COPD Foundation

The COPD Foundation is a not-for-profit organization created in 2004, and has become the COPD community's forefront organization, driven by the individuals affected by COPD, that has addressed educational, research and advocacy issues that concern the community in order to improve the quality of life for the 24 million Americans affected by COPD. For more information about the COPD Foundation and its programs, call the C.O.P.D. Information Line at 1-866-316-COPD (2673) or visit the website at


The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for one of North America's premier sports.  NASCAR races are broadcast in more than 150 countries and 20 languages. NASCAR fans are the most brand-loyal in all of sports, and as a result more Fortune 500 companies participate in NASCAR than any other sport.

About Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., based in Ridgefield, CT, is the largest U.S. subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation (Ridgefield, CT) and a member of the Boehringer Ingelheim group of companies.

The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world's 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, it operates globally with 142 affiliates in 50 countries and more than 41,500 employees. Since it was founded in 1885, the family-owned company has been committed to researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing novel products of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.

In 2009, Boehringer Ingelheim posted net sales of US $17.7 billion (12.7 billion euro) while spending 21% of net sales in its largest business segment, Prescription Medicines, on research and development.

For more information, please visit

*No Purchase Necessary. Program starts 5/2/10 & ends 12/1/10. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States (including DC) who are 35 years of age or older at the time of entry. This Program is void in Puerto Rico & where prohibited. For official rules & complete details visit NASCAR, Inc. is not a sponsor of this promotion.

**No Purchase Necessary. Program starts 5/17/10 & ends 9/1/10. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States (including DC) who are 35 years of age or older at the time of entry. This Program is void in Puerto Rico & where prohibited. For official rules & complete details visit

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SOURCE Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.