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Carrington College Blog

FDA approves two new drugs for IPF

November 5, 2014

New FDA-approved drugs can potentially slow the progression of IPF.In the industry of pharmacy technology, the Food and Drug Administration have recently approved two new drug therapies for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. While the cause of the disease is unknown, research has found that the drugs Ofev (nintedanib) and Esbriet (pirfenidone) can significantly slow the disease’s progression, according to the FDA.Although neither drug is a cure for IPF, these pharmaceutical therapy options are the first step into better understanding the disease overall.

Tech Times notes that a lung transplant was the only current treatment option for IPF until these drugs were approved.In general, patients live for approximately 2 to 5 years after the diagnosis. The approval of Ofev and Esbriet can potentially increase the life expectancy of those suffering from this condition.

What is IPF?

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a disease that affects the lungs – particularly in smokers – by stiffening scar tissue in lungs, according to the National Institutes of Health.IPF generally affects those over 50 years of age and also affects more men than women. More than 120,000 Americans have IPF, and if more than one person in a family has the disease it is considered familial. While IPF is relatively easy for physicians to identify, there is no current cure for the disease.

The NIH states that the most common cause of death from IPF is respiratory failure.Other potential causes include heart failure, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism and pulmonary hypertension. As the lungs stiffen, it becomes hard for patients with IPF to breathe properly. Eventually, the lungs cannot take in enough oxygen which can lead to respiratory failure. {feels incomplete. maybe add something like “, depriving the body of energy for cells.”

There are many kinds of pulmonary fibrosis, or diseases that lead to the swelling and scarring of the lungs. When a cause of the fibrosis cannot be found, it is categorized as idiopathic. According to The Lung Association, idiopathic simply means “unknown cause.”IPF is associated with a number of factors including smoking tobacco, acid reflux and bacterial lung infections.

Potential signs of IPF are breathlessness and a chronic cough, as well as chest pain, weight loss and loss of appetite. Breathlessness can reveal itself when sufferers are exercising or engaging in day-to-day activities such as climbing the stairs.

The approved drugs

The drugs are a positive sign for those suffering from IPF. Without a cure, an IPF diagnosis can be devastating, but if Ofev and Esbriet can slow down scarring in the lungs it can possibly give IPF patients more longevity after the disease takes hold. The FDA states that the new drugs seem to inhibit important pathways that lead to lung scarring in IPF patients.Though both Ofev and Esbriet show promise, the FDA believes there is still much work to be done.

In a post on the FDA blog Badrul A. Chowdhury, director of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Rheumatology Products in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research explains, “Many patients in the U.S. with IPF will now have effective treatments for their condition. We are addressing the input received from our public meeting on IPF and will continue to support the development and approval of new drugs, especially those that help patients with serious or life-threatening conditions for which no drug treatments are available.”

For pharmacy technicians, this is a hint of things to come. The FDA seems optimistic about the new pharmaceutical therapies, but clearly anticipates more drug treatments on the horizon. It will be the task of those working toward pharmacy tech degrees to use current treatments to develop new and better solutions, and perhaps even someday a cure.

1 “Two FDA drug approvals for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF),” by Badrul A. Chowhury, FDA Voice, FDA, October 15, 2014.

“FDA approval of Roche, Boehringer drugs for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a big step forward,” by Sumit Passary, Tech Times, October 16, 2014.

“What Is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis?” National Institutes of Health, September 20, 2011.

“Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF),” The Lung Association, last updated August 21, 2014.