It was a double-portion of good news for Trinity-Chiesi this week after the firm launched its promising new asthma treatment Fostair in the UK, and received a nod from the Scottish Medicines Consortium for its use on the National Health Service.

Fostair is the only metered-dose inhaler on the market combining the inhaled corticosteroid belcometasone dipropionate and the long-acting beta2 agonist formoterol fumarate, and is indicated for the control of asthma symptoms in patients aged 18 and over.

Head-to-head clinical trials have shown the product to be as effective as rival inhalers Seretide (salmeterol/fluticasone propionate) and Symbicort (budesonide/formoterol) in bettering patients’ peak expiratory flow, but those treated with Fostair had a statistically significantly faster improvement in lung function compared to patients on Seretide, the company said.

“The arrival of Fostair will offer an important new treatment alternative to UK clinicians [and] I am sure its introduction as another choice of combination inhaler will be welcomed,” commented Professor Neil Barnes, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at the London Chest Hospital, Barts and the London NHS Trust.

Substantial savings
Importantly, the metered-dose inhaler also has the added advantage of being around 20% cheaper than its competitors. In fact, Trinity-Chiesi claims that, if all eligible patients had been treated with Fostair, the NHS could save over £40 million in a year, which, it points out, equates to the cost of employing an extra 3,600 Grade E Nurses during that timeframe.

News of the launch came just a day after the SMC endorsed Fostair’s use on the NHS in Scotland, after deeming it an effective use of resources. Its sister organisation, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, published its Final Appraisal Determination on inhaled corticosteroids last year, recommending use of the least expensive ICS/LABA combination for patients with chronic asthma, and final guidance is expected during the first quarter of this year.