An asthma drug that was once destined for the scrapheap has just been listed on Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme after further trials proved its worth in a sub-group of patients.
Called Mepolizumab, it was purpose-built to block a protein causing inflammation in eosinophilic asthma but at first appeared ineffective. HMRI asthma research leader Professor Gibson says the drug just needed to be targeted to those with the right type of asthma.
“Further studies were spectacularly positive. They were the most severe asthma patients possible ... and they had dramatic responses to Mepolizumab. It breathed new life into a drug that was about to be discarded.”
HMRI collaborated in several large international trials confirming the results, with local patients having equally good responses. Following PBS approval, a rigorous evaluation program is being established to select patients to receive ongoing monthly injections.