We’ve been preoccupied with another respiratory health issue over the last two years, and it has made us all think more about breathing, and how breathing well is vital for our health. For World Asthma Day this year, let’s all refocus on closing the gap in asthma care.

In 2021 the Government launched the Life Sciences Vision (LSV), which aims to foster greater collaboration between Government, the NHS, research institutions and industry in tackling some of the major healthcare challenges facing society. One of the seven ‘missions’ the LSV set out was ‘reducing mortality and morbidity from respiratory disease in the UK and globally,’ and it identified both asthma and COPD as particular priorities.1

This is quite the challenge. The UK has one of the worst mortality rates for asthma in Europe.2 For those living with the most severe forms of asthma, underdiagnosis and delayed referral to specialists contribute to these poor outcomes.3

But there’s also a problem with access to the right treatment. For people with severe asthma, there is evidence that medicines uptake is lower compared to other European countries, despite a commitment from the Government to increase access in 2021.4

However, there are opportunities on the horizon. Last year, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) developed a new national guideline on asthma. This presents an opportunity to improve asthma outcomes. But the exclusion of severe or difficult to treat asthma from the scope is a missed opportunity given these patients face, according to Asthma UK, higher risk of hospitalisation and death.5,6

Although it cannot be cured, it is possible to manage asthma, and to reduce and prevent asthma attacks; despite two thirds of asthma deaths being preventable, three people die from an asthma attack every day in the UK7 and an estimated 200,000 people have ‘severe asthma’.8

At Sanofi, we strive to be leaders in the charge against severe asthma, working to make living with asthma safer for patients, and closing the gap between what we can do, and what we are doing.

To this end, we recently brought together key stakeholders in the asthma policy community for a discussion on potential opportunities created by the LSV. We wanted to identify how to turn ambition into reality. We discussed the difficulty in diagnosing patients and the bottleneck that exists in patients getting reviewed by specialists, the use of new treatments and what we can all do to better utilise existing data resources, to drive up standards for patients.

Our collective response to COVID means the benefits of partnership working between NHS, research and industry have never been more apparent. Now is the time to really push our strengths to attract further investment, while improving outcomes for patients.

There is already world leading scientific and academic expertise in the UK; companies such as Sanofi and others contribute to that. But we need to harness innovations to make sure that our world class research and industry is leading to world class outcomes for patients.

While the last two years have been so difficult for respiratory care, World Asthma Day gives us an opportunity to reflect on what it is possible to achieve, and to commit to doing so much more in the future to close the gap for those with asthma.

#AsthmaStrong

By Amy Grey, Head of Dermatology and Respiratory

References

  1. HM Government (2021) Life Sciences Vision: Building back better: our plan for growth. Available online: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1013597/life-sciences-vision-2021.pdf - p9, accessed 21/04/2022

  2. Asthma UK. UK asthma death rates among worst in Europe. Available online: https://www.asthma.org.uk/about/media/news/press-release-uk-asthma-death-rates-among-worst-in-europe/ - accessed 21/04/2022

  3. Royal College of Physicians (2015). Why asthma still kills: National Review of Asthma Deaths. Available from: https://www.asthma.org.uk/about/media/news/press-release-uk-asthma-death-rates-among-worst-in-europe/

  4. LOGEX (2021), International Comparison Medicines Uptake. Available online: https://logex.com/uk/international-medicines-uptake-comparator/

  5. NICE (2021). Asthma: diagnosis, monitoring and chronic asthma management. Available online: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/indevelopment/gid-ng10186/

  6. Asthma UK (2018) Slipping through the net. Available online: https://www.asthma.org.uk/support-us/campaigns/publications/difficult-and-severe-asthma-report//

  7. Asthma UK (2021). Asthma facts and statistics. Available online: https://www.asthma.org.uk/about/media/news/every-three-seconds-someone-in-the-uk-could-be-having-a-life-threatening-asthma-attack--new-figures/#:~:text=Every%20asthma%20attack%20is%20potentially,every%20day%20in%20the%20UK.&text=Asthma%20is%20a%20long%2Dterm,making%20it%20harder%20to%20breathe. 

  8. Asthma UK (2018), Slipping through the net: the reality facing patients with difficult and severe asthma. Available online: https://www.asthma.org.uk/support-us/campaigns/publications/difficult-and-severe-asthma-report/

Job bag number: MAT-XU-2201166 (v1.0)
Date of Preparation: April 2022