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Discovery & Development Drug Delivery, Formulation

Raising Respiratory Awareness

Great strides have been made in medicine as of late, with the recent approval of Kymriah – the first CAR-T therapy – being heralded as a breakthrough. Certainly, the cancer field is seeing a number of exciting drug development projects, but other fields are being left behind. The field of respiratory medicine, in particular, is plagued by unmet needs. First of all, there is very little awareness of respiratory disease at all. For chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), for instance, diagnosis rates can be as low as 30 percent (1)(2) resulting in unnecessary delays in treatment initiation. Even when a patient is correctly diagnosed, treatment is often less than ideal. Moreover, there are clearly unmet needs in the treatment of COPD, such as exacerbation and symptom control, improving health status, and slowing the decline of lung function and disease progression (3). Although there is considerable evidence that bronchodilators provide lung function improvements, as well as clinical benefits in patients with COPD, inhalable drugs often cause compliance issues due to the difficulty of correctly administering pulmonary or nasal formulations – research has estimated that only 1 out of 10 patients with a metered dose inhaler performs all of the steps correctly (4). 

Patients with respiratory diseases need new medicines that alleviate symptoms and modify the course of the disease without, at the same time, causing undue side effects and/or non-adherence to medication regimens. In 2015, COPD alone caused 3 million deaths – accounting for 5 percent of all deaths globally (5) – but despite this there are few treatments being investigated in industry pipelines. Many other respiratory conditions are also being neglected, including orphan diseases such as cystic fibrosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Non-inhaled drugs, particularly oral or sublingual formulations, are expected to be particularly welcome from a compliance perspective.

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About the Author

Robert Lins

Robert Lins is SGS’s Clinical Research, Respiratory Project Director.

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