A new inhaler has been licensed in the UK for adult asthma patients as an add-on maintenance bronchodilator treatment.

Boehringer Ingelheim announced the new once-daily treatment involving Spiriva delivered via the Respimat Soft Mist™ Inhaler (SMI). This was granted after a study in adults with asthma who continue to have symptoms despite best-practice management.

The studies showed that the addition of Spiriva Respimat to current treatment reduced the risk of experiencing a severe exacerbation by more than one fifth and delayed the time to the first episode of asthma worsening (315 days versus 181 days).

“We have over 90 years’ experience in the field of respiratory medicine and we are committed to bringing new treatment options to patients particularly in areas of high unmet need,” said Dr Charles De Wet, Medical Director UK and Ireland at Boehringer Ingelheim. “Launching Spiriva Respimat in asthma is a first for this class of medicine and we are delighted to lead the way.”

Today, asthma is often seen as an easy-to-manage condition and there is a misconception that people with asthma are all well controlled. But earlier this year the Royal College of Physicians’ ‘National Review of Asthma Deaths’ shone a light on the high unmet treatment need in asthma and the number of deaths over the course of a year that could have been prevented with better management.[iv] The prevalence of asthma in the UK is among the highest in the world, with 4.3 million adults currently receiving treatment.[v] However, an estimated 55% of patients with asthma remain symptomatic. 

Commenting on the new indication for Spiriva Respimat in asthma, Dr Brian Lipworth, Scottish Centre for Respiratory Research, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee said: “Over half of asthma sufferers still experience symptoms despite taking current treatments and this leaves them at a worryingly high risk of experiencing an asthma attack. With such high numbers of people left vulnerable, the need for new and effective treatments is clear.

“This licence for Spiriva Respimat gives doctors a much needed new option to protect patients against asthma attacks, which can at best be unpleasant, and at worst, life threatening”.