If there was a proven medication to slow the progress of a chronic and deadly lung disease with no cure, why wouldn’t you take it? That’s the question that researchers in the U.K., France, Spain, and Germany have been trying to tease out with regard to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), an incurable disease that can progress quite rapidly. To learn more about IPF, click here.
According to a recent survey conducted by European researchers, despite the availability of antifibrotic therapies (namely Ofev and Esbriet) many patients with confirmed idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis do not receive approved antifibrotic treatment. Why? Doctors appear to be hesitant to treat patients with “mild” or “stable” lung diseases.
The research team considered the responses of 290 physicians and discovered that 54% of patients with IPF did not receive treatment with an approved antifibrotic. Of patients with “mild” IPF, 71% did not receive an approved antifibrotic versus 41% and 60% of patients with “moderate” and “severe” IPF, respectively.
Both Ofev and Esbriet have been proven to slow the progression of fibrous scarring in the lungs. These treatments have been available in Europe longer than they have in the United States, and yet, according to this survey, European physicians often take a “wait and see” approach, especially if the case is not considered severe. This could be bad news for patients since non-treatment may hasten the person’s overall health and well-being.
“More education is required to address diagnostic uncertainty, poor understanding of IPF and its treatments, and issues of treatment access,” reports the research team, which was led by Tony Maher of the Imperial College London, London, UK. “There is a need to increase physician awareness of the benefits associated with antifibrotic treatment across the spectrum of IPF severity.”