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Breakthrough Asthma Study Set to Revolutionise Treatment

Findings from a New Zealand-led asthma study published in the New England Journal of Medicine today have discovered a way to significantly improve the treatment and management of asthma – the world’s most common form of respiratory illness.

The study conducted by Medical Research Institute of New Zealand (MRINZ) has found that a simplified, single combination inhaler inclusive of both preventer and reliever medicine can more than half the risk of a severe asthma attack, in comparison to the current best practice of administering both medications separately.

The international study led by Professor Richard Beasley, Director of MRINZ and Scientific Advisory Board Member of Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) enrolled 675 patients with mild asthma from New Zealand, Australia, UK and Italy over a 52-week period.

The study’s results showed the combination preventer-reliever group’s risk of an asthma attack was reduced by 60% compared to those who just used a reliever alone. The single combination approach was also shown to have a 56% reduction in risk for those who used both medications separately.

Professor Beasley comments, “The findings from this study are exciting and have the potential to be a gamechanger in the way doctors treat mild asthma and simplifies treatment. This means that patients would not be required to take a preventer inhaler twice daily even when they are experiencing no symptoms and instead, only take a combination preventer/reliever when they are experiencing symptoms”.

Dr Stuart Jones, Medical Director of ARFNZ comments, “For those with mild asthma, implementation of the study’s findings will lead to a reduction in flare ups, which means less time feeling unwell and more time doing what you enjoy in life, all while using inhaled steroids sparingly. Professor Beasley and his team should be congratulated on this great piece of work”.

In addition to the recent study, Professor Beasley has also led ARFNZ’s development and update of the New Zealand Adult Asthma Guidelines. ARFNZ now intend to incorporate the recent study’s findings into the next review of the guidelines, due to be updated in early 2020.

Teresa Demetriou ARFNZ’s Head of Education and Research comments, “The findings from this study will be incorporated into the Adult Asthma Guidelines which are due to be revised later this year, helping to inform health professionals on respiratory best practice and ultimately influencing the way we treat asthma in New Zealand – this study is truly revolutionary”.

ARFNZ’s Chief Executive Letitia O’Dwyer comments, “The Foundation is honoured to work closely with high calibre respiratory clinicians such as Professor Beasley and the Scientific Advisory Board members who provide the Foundation with the latest research and developments regarding respiratory health. We now look forward to seeing how this landmark study’s findings translate into changing international asthma best practice and guidelines to substantially improve patient outcomes.”

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