Life-changing drugs should be available to those at risk of a life-threatening asthma attack

Today, 12th September 2019, it was announced that mepolizumab (Nucala), a drug used to treat those with the severest form of asthma will now be available for some patients to use at home, rather than needing to go to hospital for the treatment. Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK said:

“Mepolizumab is one of a group of new life-changing drugs that could transform the lives of tens of thousands of people with the severest form of asthma, who struggle to breathe and are in and out of hospital with repeated asthma attacks.

“Until now, people who have been prescribed the drug have had to go to a severe asthma clinic to get the treatment, even though their symptoms may make it difficult to travel, especially if their clinic is far away. We welcome the news that now people will be able to take it in the comfort of their own home if they choose to. This will help patients and also allow stretched severe asthma clinics more time so they can see more patients.

“While this seems promising, too few people who need these new treatments are able to access them. People with severe asthma can only access drugs like mepolizumab if they are referred for treatment and our research shows that four in five people at risk of difficult or severe asthma are not being referred*. It is vital GPs urgently refer patients who have had more than two courses of steroid tablets in the last year who could be eligible for treatments that could transform their lives. We are also urging patients who suspect they could benefit from these life-saving drugs to speak to their GP.”   

*From Asthma UK’s report: Living in limbo: The scale of unmet need in difficult and severe asthma