Novartis’ chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drug Ultibro has been launched in the UK by marketing partner Pfizer.

Ultibro (indacaterol/glycopyrronium) is a once-daily dual bronchodilator for the maintenance treatment of COPD which is delivered through Novartis’ Breezhaler device. In September, the Swiss major signed up Pfizer to promote the long-acting muscarinic-antagonist/beta-agonist (LAMA/LABA) combo in the UK and another COPD therapy Seebri (glycopyrronium), which also uses Breezhaler and has been available here since November 2012.

Wisia Wedzicha, professor of respiratory medicine at the UCL Medical School, noted the timing of the launch of Ultibro, pointing out that the impact of exacerbations on patients, particularly during the cold winter months, “is profound and has a real impact on their quality of life”. She said that COPD “already places a considerable burden on the National Health Service and admission rates are on the rise”, so an additional treatment that improves outcomes for patients “can make a very positive difference in our efforts to manage the condition”.
It is estimated that the direct cost of providing care in the NHS for people with COPD is almost £500 million a year, more than half of which relates to hospital care. It is the second most common cause of emergency hospital admissions and one of the most costly inpatient conditions treated by the NHS.