What are they?
Improving outcomes for patients with respiratory disease is a clinical priority in the NHS Long Term Plan. To support delivery of this part of the NHS Long Term Plan, the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) have selected Asthma Biologics as a Rapid Uptake Product. Asthma Biologics are an innovative group of medicines used by specialists to treat people with severe asthma. They provide a treatment option for people with severe asthma who continue to experience asthma attacks despite taking usual treatments (such inhaled steroids). Currently there are four NICE approved biologics for severe asthma (Omalizumab, Mepolizumab, Reslizumab and Benralizumab). Omalizumab is indicated for severe allergic asthma and the other three biologics (Mepolizumab, Reslizumab and Benralizumab) are indicated for severe eosinophilic asthma.
From December 2021, the programme will also support NICE recommended Dupilumab, which is indicated in adults and adolescents 12 years and older as add-on maintenance treatment for severe asthma with type 2 inflammation.
The asthma biologics work in a targeted way by disrupting pathways that lead to lung inflammation to reduce asthma attacks, improve symptoms and reduce reliance on oral steroids. They are given as an injection or infusion (depending on which biologic is being taken) regularly in hospital or patients can self-inject at home.
The decision to start a biologic treatment for asthma is made by specialist severe asthma multi-disciplinary teams based in severe asthma centres. People receiving biologics are closely monitored to ensure that they are receiving the right treatment to help manage their symptoms.
To support early identification, the Asthma Biologics Rapid Uptake Product Working Group has developed a patient leaflet – Is your asthma under control? – which aims to empower patients to have an informed conversation with their asthma team if their asthma is not adequately controlled despite taking their medication correctly.
Oxford Academic Health Science Network has created an Asthma Biologics rapid uptake product implementation toolkit which provides downloadable tools and resources to support NHS organisations to improve the outcome for people with suspected and confirmed severe asthma. Anyone can access the toolkit and it also contains case studies of best practice identified through the programme.
What are the benefits?
- Reduced need for steroids (and therefore reduced associated side effects)
- Reduced asthma attacks and asthma-related hospital admissions
- Improvement in symptoms and quality of life
- Improvement in lung function (in some patients).
Follow the links to find out more about Asthma Biologics:
- Asthma UK: Biologic Therapies
- NICE Guidance TA565 Benralizumab
- NICE Guidance TA671 Mepolizumab
- NICE Guidance TA278 Omalizumab
- NICE Guidance TA479 Reslizumab