Data from a phase III study of a drug for the treatment of autoimmune diseases has been released, which show that it is effective in the treatment of bronchial asthma. If the drug is approved for asthma, it could be on a fast track to becoming a sought-after and purchased drug.
An estimated fifty billion dollars is spent annually directly on the care of patients with asthma, and much of this money goes to pay for expensive inpatient care for patients. Despite the widespread use of inhalers and supportive care, asthma control remains difficult for many patients. As a result , there are about 400,000 asthma-related hospitalizations in the United States each year. Clearly, there is a need for new therapies that can help patients with this disease, and fortunately, drug developers are creating new drugs that can better control this condition.
Brand-name drugs that have gained approval over the past few years belong to a new class that targets interleukin-5 to reduce inflammation, and in trials they have reduced attacks in patients with severely controlled moderate to severe asthma. Their sales so far represent only a small fraction of overall asthma spending, but demand is growing. Like them, the new drug is a biologic that reduces inflammation, although unlike previous novelties it targets interleukin-4 and interleukin-13, two other cytokines involved in immune system responses. In the third phase of the study, adding a dose of three hundred milligrams to standard asthma therapy reduced severe asthma attacks by 46% after fifty-two weeks. Patients with an IL-4 and IL-13 activity score of 150 or 300 eosinophilic cells/microliter or greater experienced a 60% and 67% reduction in seizures, respectively. The drug also increased lung function compared to placebo, as measured by measuring expiratory volume for one second. The overall incidence of side effects and discontinuation of the drug was similar to placebo. There is no guarantee that the drug will receive Food and Drug Administration approval for asthma treatment, but if it does, it will be evaluated by about a million US adults and adolescents.