UK asthma patients will now have access to a new option for maintenance treatment, following the launch of SkyePharma's Flutiform in the country by its marketing and licensing partner Napp Pharmaceuticals.

Flutiform combines the ICS fluticasone propionate (fluticasone) with the LABA formoterol fumarate (formoterol) in a single aerosol inhaler using SkyePharma's proprietary SkyeDry technology, and is available in three different doses for adults and adolescents aged 12 years and older.

Approval of the drug in Europe was based on a package of Phase III trials, which showed that the combination of fluticasone/formoterol delivered comparable efficacy and safety to its individual components administered via two separate inhalers.

In addition, the combo was found to be at least as effective, and with a similar safety profile, as two of the most popular combination treatments in Europe - fluticasone/salmeterol and budesonide/formoterol.

According to the company, as well as the added convenience of having these two therapies in one, the product could actually help save the National Health Service cash.

The lower strength (50/5 _g) is currently at price parity and the two higher doses (125/5 _g and 250/10 _g) at a lower cost than the fluticasone/salmeterol metered dose inhaler (MDI), SkyePharma said.

Switching cost-effective

In addition, switching appropriate patients to the fluticasone/formoterol combination inhaler from the fluticasone/salmeterol MDI could generate cost savings for the health service, according to a cost-effectiveness analysis by Napp Pharmaceuticals, an affiliate of the group's development, marketing and distribution partner Mundipharma.

Currently in the UK there are about 5.4 million people living with asthma. But in many cases, the disease is not as well controlled as it could be, leaving patients at risk of exacerbations, which could impact on quality of life and boost healthcare costs. 

"So advances in medication and a new combination treatment option is very much welcomed,” commented Professor David Price, GP with special interest in respiratory disease and Primary Care Respiratory Society UK, Professor of Primary Care Respiratory Medicine, University of Aberdeen. 

The launch of Flutiform in the UK has triggered a 4 million-Euro milestone payment to SkyePharma.