On last week’s Rare Disease Day, held Feb. 28, Boehringer Ingelheim launched a new campaign titled “Why Wait in IPF?” to raise awareness about the importance of early diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and treatment with anti-fibrotic drugs.
Even though international guidelines recommend treatment with anti-fibrotic drugs to most IPF patients, a recent European study showed that around 40 percent of patients with a confirmed diagnosis do not receive this type of treatment.
Boehringer Ingelheim makes and markets Ofev (nintedanib), one of two landmark anti-fibrotic therapies approved for the treatment of IPF. Ofev was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2014 and by the European Medicines Agency in 2015.
The diagnosis of IPF can be difficult because patients often experience symptoms that are nonspecific to the condition and are often attributed to aging or conditions other than IPF.
The median time from the onset of symptoms to diagnosis is around two years, which is a considerable amount of time for patients to spend without receiving treatment for the disease. Damage from IPF is irreversible and, without proper medical intervention, the opportunity to slow disease progression is lost.
“Slowing disease progression and preserving lung function by reducing decline should be the primary goal for all physicians when treating individuals with IPF. For this reason, initiation of treatment at diagnosis is vital,” Toby Maher, a professor at Royal Brompton Hospital in the United Kingdom, said in a press release.
Approved anti-fibrotic drugs like Ofev or Esbriet (pirfenidone) – the second landmark therapy approved for IPF, sold by Genentech – can help slow disease progression and are recommended for most patients in a 2015 updated guideline on IPF treatment by the American Thoracic Society, the European Respiratory Society, the Japanese Respiratory Society, and the Latin American Thoracic Association.
These Clinical Practice Guidelines were designed to help clinicians interpret the recommendations made in the context of individual patient values and preferences, and to make appropriate clinical decisions about IPF treatment.
The guidelines can also help patients feel empowered to take an active role in their disease management by supporting discussions of possible treatment approaches with their physician.