Boehringer Ingelheim’s Ofev cut the risk of acute exacerbations by around 50% in people with the rare lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), according pooled analysis of data from the TOMORROW and INPULSIS trials.

IPF is thought to be diagnosed in around 5,000 UK patients every year. The potentially fatal disease causes damage and scarring to the tissue surrounding the small airways in the lungs, leading to symptoms such as breathlessness and cough, which, without treatment, steadily worsen over time.

An acute exacerbation, a sudden worsening in respiratory function without warning or known cause, is a leading cause of hospitalisation for people with the condition, and around half of all people hospitalised because of an acute IPF exacerbation will die from it.

As Luca Richeldi, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Southampton, UK, explained, reducing the risk of exacerbations is “an important treatment goal” in IPF management “because of their unpredictability and devastating impact on the course of the disease”.

The findings also showed that the drug slowed disease progression by approximately 50 percent across the range of patient types in the clinical trial programme, echoing previous findings, as well as reducing the risk of all-cause mortality by 30 percent and on-treatment mortality by 43 percent.

Ofev was approved for IPF in Europe in January 2015, after data from Phase III trials showed that it slowed disease progression through a 50 percent reduction in lung function decline over a year. The drug is also marketed for the treatment of lung cancer, under the brand name Vargatef.