Severe asthma currently affects 5% of the total patients that are dealing with asthma. However, 50% of current costs of asthma come from treatments given to patients with severe asthma. This demonstrates the need for a more cost effective solution for patients with this form of asthma. According the World Health Organization, about 235 million people suffer from asthma, and there has been a 50% increase in asthma cases every decade. Asthma has one of the highest costs of chronic conditions including visits to the physician’s office and personal burdens. Though asthma is a common chronic disease, severe asthma can result from non-adherence. Proper education about asthma and cost effective prescriptions could help patients that suffer from severe asthma.
As of late, there have been four medications that have been studied for severe asthma. Tiotropium bromide is an anti-muscarinic agent and has shown to decrease asthma severity. Omalizumab is a recombinant IgG1 monoclonal anti-IgE antibody and is used for patients that have elevated IgE levels and react to one or more allergnes. This medication is given subcutaneously every two to four weeks. It has shown a great improvement in severe asthma but is one of the most expensive asthma medications. A third medication is Mepolizumab which is a humanized monoclonal antibody for interleukin 5. It is ment to prevent airway inflammation and is given intravenously every four weeks. It has shown to reduce asthma and lower blood and septum eosinophil counts. A fourth medication was mentioned. Thermoplasty is the newest method and is meant to reduce smooth muscle in airways of uncontrolled asthma. However, this is an invasive procedure and has yet to be made safe in the early stages after the procedure but has shown long term improvements over five years.
With asthma rates increasing, it is important to find cost effective ways to treat it. Not only will finding proper medications for patients would be helpful, but overall education about asthma would be useful to ensure that severe asthma does not happen. The future of these new severe asthma medications are promising though.
Al Efraij K, Fitzgerald JM. Current and emerging treatments for severe asthma. J Thorac Dis. 2015; 7(11).