Common Treatment for Patients with Chronic, Progressive Lung Disease Found To Be Ineffective
Bethesda, MD - A drug used to treat patients with mild to moderate lung damage from the disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is no better than placebo for preserving lung function, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health.
The finding is in the final report of a clinical trial called Prednisone, Azathioprine, and N-Acetylcysteine: A Study That Evaluates Response in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (PANTHER-IPF). It will be published tomorrow in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Previous studies suggested that therapies combining N-acetylcysteine, or NAC, with immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory drugs could slow progression of the disease.
“IPF is a devastating disease,” said James Kiley, Ph.D., director of the Division of Lung Diseases at the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Incurable, it affects about 200,000 people in the United States, with less than half surviving more than 2-3 years from initial diagnosis. “While it is disappointing that NAC was ineffective in preserving lung function in IPF, these are the kind of high-quality data that patients and their caregivers need to make informed decisions.”
Among other measures, researchers relied on forced vital capacity (FVC) - the total amount of air a person can exhale after taking the deepest breath possible - to assess changes in lung function. During 60 weeks of follow-up, the study found no statistically significant difference in FVC declines, IPF symptom flare-ups, deaths, or hospitalizations between patients treated with NAC and those treated with placebo. Continue>
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