Statement: new drug 'a beacon of hope' for people with severe asthma

A new drug called Benralizumab, which is used in the treatment of severe eosinophilic asthma has today July 16, 2018 been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Responding to the news, Kay Boycott, Chief Executive of Asthma UK said:

“This new drug Benralizumab 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.

“This drug has the potential to transform the quality of lives of many. NHS England now must ensure this treatment become readily available to those who need it.”


Case study

Nichola Duane, 41, from Whalley, Lancashire, was first diagnosed with asthma aged 20 but it took ten years before she was diagnosed with severe eosinophilic asthma. This is a particular type of asthma that doesn’t respond to normal asthma treatments. Asthma had a huge impact on Nichola’s life. Most days, Nichola has to use a nebuliser every four to six hours, and every two hours at night. She travels 150-mile round trips to get her treatment, and she has got steroid-induced diabetes.

Nichola’s severe asthma has prevented her from play rugby and hockey which she had previously played to a high level. She had to leave her job as a nursery teacher, move back in with her parents and is cared for by her dad. It’s taken its toll financially, with her Dad having to take time off work to look after her. 

She says “I had to give up a job I loved as a nursery teacher because my severe asthma is so bad. Most days I need to use my nebulisers every few hours, and my Dad has had to cut back on his shifts at work to care for me. We have to make a 150-mile round-trip every two weeks to receive treatment at a specialist centre.

“New treatments such as benralizumab could mean that I could regain my independence and get back into work, giving me a much better quality of life.”

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, around 100,000 of whom have severe eosinophilic 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

  • Severe eosinophilic asthma is a type of asthma caused by the inflammation of the airways linked to a particular type of white blood cells.