LeBauer HealthCare Offers Potential Treatment of Fatal Lung Disease
LeBauer HealthCare is one of more than 80 select sites in the country offering a promising drug for people with a debilitating, unpredictable, progressive and ultimately fatal lung disease called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). The drug is called pirfenidone and was developed by InterMune Inc., Brisbane, California. LeBauer HealthCare, through its research affiliate, Piedmont Respiratory Research Foundation, is offering pirfenidone through an Expanded Access Program (EAP) sponsored by InterMune.
“This is the first time there is a specific drug treatment short of a lung transplant that has had any meaningful impact on survival for this dreadful disease,” says Piedmont Respiratory Research Foundation Assistant Medical Director, Dr. Murali Ramaswamy. “This is one of the most exciting recent advances in pulmonary medicine and we are fortunate to offer this to our IPF patients through the EAP.”
LeBauer HealthCare was one of 127 sites in nine countries involved in a landmark, 52-week study called ASCEND. The study is in the May 18 online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. Pirfenidone was compared with a placebo in 555 IPF patients. Those who received pirfenidone showed a significantly reduced relative risk for disease progression compared to those taking a placebo. This translated to a mortality benefit when results from ASCEND and two previous trials were pooled and analyzed. Due to the severity of IPF, lack of good treatment options and promising results, the Food and Drug Administration is allowing its use through the EAP while reviewing the drug for approval.
Nearly 140,000 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with IPF. It is a condition in which scar tissue forms inside the lungs. As the lungs thicken, they become stiff and lose their ability to put oxygen into the blood. People have trouble breathing and can even be short of breath at rest. The course is very unpredictable ranging from a slow, progressive decline to abrupt and accelerated deterioration. Researchers aren’t sure what causes IPF and there haven’t been any effective treatments until now. IPF usually occurs in middle-aged and older adults. Median survival is only three to five years after diagnosis.
“It is a tribute to the work accomplished by Piedmont Respiratory Research Foundation during the ASCEND trial and the quality of care we provide every day that has allowed us to be one of the first places in the country to offer hope to people with IPF,” adds Ramaswamy.