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Mannitol approved as cystic fibrosis treatment

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The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has endorsed mannitol dry powder as another treatment option for cystic fibrosis in some adult patients.

The condition can clog the lungs and digestive system with thick secretions that make it extremely hard for patients to breathe and digest food, with the symptoms including coughing, repeated chest infections and diarrhoea.

Professor Carole Longson, health technology evaluation centre director at NICE, said: “Cystic fibrosis has a major impact on the quality of life of patients and their carers so we are pleased to be able to recommend a new treatment that could ease some of this burden.”

Despite there being no cure for cystic fibrosis, medical experts believe mannitol dry powder will be able to clear the respiratory secretions and allow the lungs to function as normal, while also serving to lower the risk of inflammation and bacterial infection of the respiratory tract.

Mannitol dry powder is designed to be used alongside existing treatments, such as regular physiotherapy, antibiotics and using a nebuliser, and is inhaled through a hand-held, breath activated device. Once inhaled, it can improve hydration of the secretions, increase mucus clearance and calm an irritating cough.

“Mannitol is a dry powder for inhalation, which is associated with fewer unpleasant side-effects, requires less costly equipment and less time to administer than nebulised treatments,” added Prof Longson. “The committee concluded that mannitol was a good use of NHS resources when offered to some adults who can’t use other treatments, and whose lung function is rapidly declining.”

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