A treatment for people with severe asthma, called bronchial thermoplasty, has today Friday 31 August 30 2018, been approved by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for standard use on the NHS in the UK. Previously, the treatment could only be used with ‘special arrangements’, meaning there were stricter criteria about who was eligible to have the treatment. Specialist asthma doctors can now consider this procedure as a ‘standard’ option.
Responding to the news, Joe Farrington-Douglas, Head of Policy and External Affairs at Asthma UK said:
“Making this treatment available to more people could offer much needed hope to thousands of people in the UK who have severe asthma.
“This debilitating form of asthma is resistant to regular treatments, meaning many have to cope with terrifying asthma symptoms, such as gasping for breath, as well repeated trips to A&E. Every asthma attack is life-threatening.
“Until now, this treatment has only been available for specific patients at some specialist centres, but these new guidelines could mean more people with the condition could reap the benefits.
“Severe asthma is hard to diagnose, which means many patients slip through the net and don’t get the help they need. Healthcare professionals need to be aware of the symptoms so they can identify patients and refer them to specialist centres, where they can be assessed and offered a full range of treatments.
“We are now calling on the NHS to recognise the importance of severe asthma treatments and ensure local health bodies fund them. There also needs to be more research into the long-term side effects of all treatments for severe asthma. People with severe asthma should get the care and support they need to live their lives to the full.”
Notes to editors
- Of the 5.4 million people with asthma in the UK, an estimated 3.6%– roughly 200,000 adults and children - have severe asthma. Source: Hekking PP, Wener RR, Amelink M, et al. The prevalence of severe refractory asthma. Journal of allergy and clinical immunology. 2015;135:4
- The treatment can only take place in specialist centres, on adults over the age of 18, which have on-site access to intensive care
- For more information and to read Asthma UK’s report Slipping through the net: The reality facing patients with severe and difficult asthma, visit www.asthma.org.uk/severeasthmareport