Experimental Pill Shows Promise Treating Severe Asthma

Fevipiprant significantly decreased asthma symptoms.

Each day, 3 people die from an asthma attack, but a new study reveals that a new asthma pill may significantly reduce the severity of the condition to reduce mortality.

The primary goal of the study was to examine the effects of the drug on inflammation in the airway, by measuring the sputum eosinophil count. The findings, published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, showed the investigational drug Fevipiprant (QAW039) significantly decreased asthma symptoms, reduced inflammation, improved lung function, and repaired the lining of airways.

Researchers enrolled 61 people broken into 2 groups. Participants in one group were given 225-mg of Fevipiprant twice daily for 12 weeks, while participants in the other group were given a placebo.

The results of the study showed that participants with moderate-to-severe asthma who received Fevipiprant had a reduced sputum eosinophil rate, from an average of 5.4% to 1.1% over 12 weeks. Authors noted that the study was unique, in that it included measurements of symptoms, lung function (using breathing tests), sampling of the airway wall, and CT scans of the chest.

“Most treatments might improve some of these features of disease, but with Fevipiprant improvements were seen with all of the types of tests,” said lead researcher Christopher Brightling.

Prior research has found that treatments targeting eosinophilic airway inflammation can substantially reduce asthma attacks, according to the study.

“This new treatment, Fevipiprant, could likewise help to stop preventable asthma attacks, reduce hospital admissions, and improve day-to-day symptoms — making it a ‘game changer’ for future treatment,” Brightling said.

The research was funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Nation Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and the EU (AirPROM) and the asthma pill is the first for nearly 20 years. Currently, the drug is being evaluated in late stage clinical trials for efficacy in patients with severe asthma.

Researchers said the drug could be a “game changer” for the future of asthma treatment.