Pharmacological management of airway obstructive diseases is a fast-evolving field. Several advances in unravelling disease mechanisms as well as intracellular and molecular pathways of drug action have been accomplished. While the clinical translation and implementation of in vitro results to the bedside remains challenging, advances in comprehending the mechanisms of respiratory medication are expected to assist clinicians and scientists in identifying meaningful read-outs and designing clinical studies. This European Respiratory Society Research Seminar, held in Naples, Italy, 5-6 May 2022, focused on current and future developments of the drugs used to treat asthma and COPD; on mechanisms of drug action, steroid resistance, comorbidities and drug interactions; on prognostic and therapeutic biomarkers; on developing novel drug targets based on tissue remodelling and regeneration; and on pharmacogenomics and emerging biosimilars. Related European Medicines Agency regulations are also discussed, as well as the seminar's position on the above aspects.