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A new drug shows promise in treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or smoker’s cough, researchers reported this week at the European Respiratory Society meeting. The company that makes the drug, Novartis, announced it has applied to start selling the drug in Europe.

The drug, known as NVA237, can significantly increase the functioning of lungs in patients with COPD who used it once a day, compared with patients who used a placebo, the researchers announced at the meeting. The drug also allows patients to exercise longer, they said.

The company’s scientists found the drug prolonged the amount of time before a patient suffered their first moderate to severe relapse of COPD—usually caused by smoking—and reduced the number of hospitalizations.

Reuters reports Novartis has applied to the European Medicines Agency for approval of the drug. A decision is expected in 2012. If approved, the drug will be sold in Europe under the name Seebri Breezhaler.

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