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Drug 'could cut asthma A&E visits'

20 August 2012 09:13

The drug could reduce dependence on inhalers, according to researchers

The drug could reduce dependence on inhalers, according to researchers

A new drug which suppresses inflammation of the lungs could reduce the number of emergency hospital visits among asthma sufferers by 50%, according to researchers.

Scientists from Leicester University discovered mepolizumab may allow patients with severe asthma to become less dependent on traditional steroid inhalers.

The GlaxoSmithKline-funded study looked at 621 severe asthmatics with signs of eosinophilic inflammation, with the findings reported in The Lancet.

Participants were randomly allocated one of three doses of mepolizumab: 75mg, 250mg, or 750mg, or a placebo on a monthly basis for a year.

Professor Ian Pavord and his team found the treatment could reduce severe asthma attacks and admissions to hospital or A&E by up to 50% when compared with the dummy drug.

Prof Pavord said: "Mepolizumab is potentially an important advance because it seems to be a safe and effective treatment option for patients with eosinophilic asthma that is associated with frequent flare-ups, and may reduce the need for conventional treatment with oral corticosteroids that can have serious side effects including osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and impaired growth in children."

The findings come at a time when many people are taking holidays abroad - those of us who suffer from asthma are advised to arrange pre-existing medical travel insurance before jetting off.

Mepolizumab is not yet licensed in Britain.