Did You Know There’s Treatment for IPF? And It Actually Helps!

When 63-year-old Donald Castner of Napa Valley, California was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, it came as a complete surprise.

After all, he’d been active and in good health throughout his adulthood. His interests and hobbies included hiking, backpacking, and skiing, so when he suddenly had a bout of profound breathlessness, he knew something was very wrong.

Now 67, Castner recalled visiting a pulmonologist and two months later receiving the diagnosis. He was told that IPF causes tissue deep in the lungs to thicken (fibrosis) and that hampers the body’s ability to absorb oxygen and circulate it through the bloodstream.

At the time, there was no treatment for the disease, but when the FDA approved a drug called Esbriet® (perfenidone) in 2014, Castner’s doctor prescribed it for him. So far, it has slowed the progression of this often fatal disease, and Castner is still able to engage in meaningful activities, such as gardening.

Castner’s one regret is that he didn’t start taking Esbriet when he was first diagnosed with IPF and his lung function had only decreased 20%, compared to a 60% reduction he’d reached when he began treatment.

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn is passionate about raising awareness of rare diseases and disorders and helping people connect with the resources that may ease their journey. Erica has been a caregiver, and is a patient, herself, so she completely relates to the rare disease community--on a deeply personal level.

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