- An investigational asthma pill from Swiss drugmaker Novartis showed encouraging results in a small study, according to results published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine over the weekend.
- In the 61-patient study, treatment with the drug, called fevipiprant, led to significantly lower levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers known as eosinophils, compared to placebo.
- Asthma treatments are now typically administered through inhalers, which deliver the drug directly to the lungs. Novartis will need to conduct larger studies to prove its pill's efficacy but expects to file for regulatory approval in 2019, according to Reuters.
GBI Research, a research group, predicts the U.S. market for asthma therapies will hit $14 billion by 2020, up from $11.7 billion in 2013.
Novartis hopes to have a share of that growing market, which is currently dominated by GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Merck. All of the top-selling asthma therapies are inhaled therapies and much of the R&D innovation in medication-delivery in focused in this space.
Fevipiprant, if further studies show continued efficacy, would be the first new pill for asthma since oral steroids were introduced in the 1950s. Although these medications were convenient, they came with many of the side effects associated with steroid exposure. By the time albuterol and betamethasone came along in the 1980s, oral treatments fell out of favor.
The drug was well tolerated in patients, and no withdrawals were deemed related to treatment. All study participants were treated at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, UK.