Overview of the programme

Asthma is a common health condition, affecting more than 5.4 million people in the UK. Up to 200,000 people in the UK have uncontrolled or severe asthma, which has a huge impact on the lives of patients and their families. Many are frequently admitted to hospital as an emergency or have potentially life-threatening severe asthma attacks. Patients with severe asthma may also experience serious side-effects from extended periods on high-dose steroid-based medication. (Sources: British Lung Foundation and Asthma and Lung UK)

New biological therapies are available to treat patients with severe asthma. Asthma biologics work in a targeted way by disrupting pathways causing airways inflammation, helping to manage symptoms and reduce relapses. These therapies can transform patients’ lives by reducing long-term side effects of other treatments, such as steroids, and reduce the number of life-threatening asthma attacks.

It is estimated that in England over 60,000 patients currently living with severe asthma would benefit from an asthma biologic. However, prescribing data suggests that only 8-10,000 of these patients are currently able to access these treatments.

AHSNs are working with local health systems to support improvements in asthma pathways to ensure that more patients can receive specialist care and access asthma biologics. As part of this work, AHSNs aided the creation of a consensus pathway, a set of standards, best practices, and resources to support the care of adults with uncontrolled and severe asthma.

Asthmabiologics is part of the Accelerated Access Collaborative’s Rapid Uptake Products Programme 2021-22 , designed to support wider adoption and spread of proven innovations.

During the first year of the AHSN work, it is estimated more than 2,000 new patients began receiving biologic therapies.

AHSNs are also transforming asthma pathways by improving access to tests that measure the amount of nitric oxide in an exhaled breath.

Oxford AHSN is the lead AHSN for the Asthma Biologics programme. Resources are available on the Oxford AHSN website.

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