NHS decision to fund new asthma drug a ‘beacon of hope’ to thousands

This article was taken from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/16/nhs-decision-fund-new-asthma-drug-beacon-hope-thousands/

By Henry Bodkin

Around 100,000 people suffering from the worst form of asthma will be given access to a £12,000 treatment that promises the chance of a more normal life.

Health chiefs have said the NHS will pay for injections of Benralizumab for those who cannot be helped by traditional inhalers or steroids.

Patients groups welcomed the decision saying it offers a “beacon of hope” to people suffering from severe eosinophilic asthma, around 1.3 per cent of the 5.4 million living with all forms of the disease.

Eosinophilic asthma is a severe type of asthma that can cause life-threatening exacerbations.

Benralizumab is given as an injection every four weeks for the first three doses and every eight weeks following.

Produced by Medlmmune, a subsidiary of AstraZeneca, the drug costs £1,955 per injection, however the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, which decides what medications and treatments must be provided on the NHS, said it had secured Benralizumab for a confidential price.

Kay Boycott, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, said: “This new drug offers a beacon of hope to thousands of people in the UK who have an acute form of asthma called severe eosinophilic asthma.

“This debilitating form of asthma is resistant to regular treatments such as inhalers and steroids, meaning many people are left dealing with terrifying asthma symptoms such as gasping for breath, or repeated trips to A&E.

“NHS England now must ensure this treatment become readily available to those who need it.”

The announcement follows new research published in May which showed Britain’s asthma death rate is now among the worst in Europe, with a 20 per cent rise in the past five years.

The analysis shows the UK rates are the fourth worst in the European Union, with 1, 434 deaths a year. The rate is almost 50 per cent higher than the EU average, with only Estonia, Spain and Cyprus faring worse.

There is no cure for asthma and treatment is focused both on relieving future symptoms and preventing attacks.

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