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Yorkshire nurses pioneering access to severe asthma drugs

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Nurses, doctors and therapists at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are working together to identify and treat people with severe asthma who could benefit from new drugs.

Potentially life-changing treatment options include the drug mepolizumab – which was approved for routine use in the NHS in December 2016.

Delivered in the form of a jab, it specifically targets eosinophilic asthma where inflammation of the airways is linked to a particular type of white blood cell.

Multi-disciplinary teams at Sheffield, which is a specialist centre for asthma, are now working with other hospitals in South Yorkshire to ensure those who could benefit receive holistic care.

As well as the doctors and nurses who administer the drug, teams include admin staff to help plan treatment for patients. Meanwhile, speech therapists, physiotherapists and psychologists are also available to support patients with issues including laryngeal and muscular problems and anxiety.

To date, around 100 patients have benefitted from treatment with mepolizumab and other similar medicines at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

“The new treatment has really changed people’s lives, even transformed them”

Ian Sabroe

Professor Ian Sabroe, respiratory specialist at the trust, said the treatment and support had “transformed” lives and reduced intensive use of steroid inhalers, which he highlighted could cause complications such as diabetes, high blood pressure and mood swings.

“Normal asthma is fairly common and tends to be well controlled, but severe asthma can be very debilitating and potentially life-threatening,” noted Professor Sabroe.

“The new treatment, together with the support of a range of staff, has really changed people’s lives, even transformed them. Some people will be able to become very active, playing sport and doing outdoor activities,” he said.

He added: “For others, it means that they no longer need to come in and out of hospital so regularly. It stops the inflammation, and means they need less steroid treatments.”

In autumn last year the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence also recommended a drug called reslizumab, which works in a similar way to mepolizumab to treat eosinophilic asthma.

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