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New survey reveals majority of severe eosinophilic asthma patients and their physicians concerned about the current state of their health

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  • Nearly 91% of patients said they were “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about their health right now.
  • Of patients surveyed, 9 in 10 found the path to being diagnosed with severe eosinophilic asthma “frustrating” and wish they had been diagnosed sooner.

Issued: PHILADELPHIA, PA

A recent survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of GSK, provides insights into the ongoing unmet need in patients living with severe eosinophilic asthma (SEA). The online survey was conducted from October 13 – November 2, 2021 within the U.S. among 100 adults who have been diagnosed with SEA and 601 physicians[i], practicing in the U.S., who treat at least two patients who have been diagnosed with SEA. The physicians surveyed included primary care physicians, allergists/immunologists and pulmonologists. Results indicate that patients and physicians are looking for more information and different treatment options for SEA. 

  • 68% of patients diagnosed with SEA describe their current health status as “fair” or “poor”, with 90% of physicians rating the overall quality of life of their patients as “fair” or “poor”.
  • 71% of physicians say that their patients with SEA are diagnosed after they have experienced asthma symptoms despite treatment.
  • When patients were asked how long it took for them to be diagnosed with SEA after they had been initially diagnosed with asthma, 34% report between one and two years and 21% report between three and four years.
  • Among primary care physicians, 36% report it takes between one and two years for patients to receive an SEA diagnosis and 6% report it takes between three and four years. 23% of allergists/immunologists and 27% of pulmonologists report it takes between one and two years for patients to receive an SEA diagnosis
  • In terms of treatment options, 91% of primary care physicians wish they knew more about injectable and biologic treatment options for SEA.

Results from the physician portion of the survey highlight the opportunity to refer SEA patients to physicians who specialize in treating respiratory and asthma conditions regularly, as 34% of primary care physicians report that they refer SEA patients to specialists “occasionally” or “about half the time.” 86% of primary care physicians refer SEA patients to pulmonologists, while 66% report that they refer SEA patients to allergists/immunologists.    

“These survey results highlight a critical need to shorten the pathway to diagnosis and educate more directly on the treatment options available. With so many patients expressing frustration with the diagnosis process and waiting upwards of four years for an SEA diagnosis, healthcare providers, industry representatives and advocates must partner together to address their concerns and test more frequently,” said Dr. Tom Corbridge, GSK U.S. Senior Medical Lead. “We must empower patients to speak up about their symptoms worsening and talk to the physician community about how to identify SEA patients as soon as possible to provide a personalized treatment plan.”

Additionally, results from the survey highlight why SEA may take time to be diagnosed, as a majority (69%) of physicians surveyed typically test for SEA only after the severity of patient’s symptoms have worsened while on treatment. Sixty-six percent of physicians report that they’ll wait to test for SEA until symptoms have not improved while using a high-dose inhaled corticosteroid. While inhaled treatments play a critical role in the management of SEA, they may not be enough and, as a result, patients may require the use of oral corticosteroids. Continued use of oral corticosteroids could put patients at risk of developing adverse effects, such as osteoporosis, hypertension, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal ulcers/bleeds, fractures and cataracts.[ii]

A majority of patients (74-84%) with severe asthma have an eosinophilic phenotype (also called severe eosinophilic asthma or SEA) as determined by a routine blood test that measures eosinophil levels.[iii],[iv] This is an important part of the clinical evaluation process because patients with SEA are at risk for asthma exacerbations, adverse reactions from prolonged use of oral corticosteroids and low lung function.[v] Blood eosinophils can also be used as a guide to initiate individualized treatment of severe asthma.[vi]

GSK is committed to working with physicians to help evaluate and identify which patients may be appropriate for eosinophil testing, and the learnings from this survey and in-practice physician and patient insights are paving the way for new awareness efforts launching in 2022. For more information on eosinophils and their role in SEA, patients and healthcare professionals can visit https://www.severeeosinophilicasthma.com/.

About the survey

The research was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of GSK from October 13 – November 2, 2021 among 100 patients age 18+ who’ve been diagnosed with severe eosinophilic asthma (SEA) and physicians who treat at least 2 patients who’ve been diagnosed with SEA. The physician survey was conducted among 601 physicians, including primary care physicians, allergists/immunologists, and pulmonologists. Results for the physician survey were weighted by years in practice and region where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

About severe asthma and severe eosinophilic asthma

Severe asthma is defined as asthma which requires treatment with high dose inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) plus a second controller (and/or systemic corticosteroids) to prevent it from becoming ‘uncontrolled’ or which remains ‘uncontrolled’ despite this therapy. Severe asthma patients are also often categorised by long-term use of oral corticosteroids (OCS).[vii]

GSK’s commitment to respiratory disease

For over 50 years, GSK has led the way in developing medicines that advance the management of asthma and COPD. From introducing the world’s first selective short-acting beta agonist in 1969, to launching six treatments in five years to create today’s industry-leading respiratory portfolio, we continue to innovate so we can reach the right patients, with the right treatment. Working together with the healthcare community, we apply world-class science to discover and understand the molecules that become the medicines of tomorrow. We won’t stand still until the simple act of breathing is made easier for everyone.  

About GSK

GSK is a science-led global healthcare company. For further information please visit www.gsk.com/about-us.

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Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements

GSK cautions investors that any forward-looking statements or projections made by GSK, including those made in this announcement, are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Such factors include, but are not limited to, those described in the Company's Annual Report on Form 20-F for 2020 and any impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

[i] The physician survey was conducted among 601 physicians, including 201 primary care physicians, 200 allergists/immunologists, and 200 pulmonologists. Results for the physician survey were weighted by years in practice and region where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

[ii] Sullivan PW, Ghushchyan VH, Globe G, Schatz M. Oral corticosteroid exposure and adverse effects in asthmatic patients. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2018 Jan;141(1):110-116.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.04.009. Epub 2017 Apr 27. PMID: 28456623.

[iii] Katz LE, Gleich GJ, Hartley BF, Yancey SW, Ortega HG. Blood eosinophil count is a useful biomarker to identify patients with severe eosinophilic asthma. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2014 May;11(4):531-6. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201310-354OC. PMID: 24606022.

[iv] Heaney LG, Perez de Llano L, Al-Ahmad M, et al. Eosinophilic and Noneosinophilic Asthma: An Expert Consensus Framework to Characterize Phenotypes in a Global Real-Life Severe Asthma Cohort. Chest. 2021;160(3):814-830. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2021.04.013

[v] Buhl R, Humbert M, Bjermer L, Chanez P, Heaney LG, Pavord I, Quirce S, Virchow JC, Holgate S; expert group of the European Consensus Meeting for Severe Eosinophilic Asthma. Severe eosinophilic asthma: a roadmap to consensus. Eur Respir J. 2017 May 1;49(5):1700634. doi: 10.1183/13993003.00634-2017. PMID: 28461308.

[vi] Kostikas K, Brindicci C, Patalano F. Blood Eosinophils as Biomarkers to Drive Treatment Choices in Asthma and COPD. Curr Drug Targets. 2018;19(16):1882-1896. doi:10.2174/1389450119666180212120012

[vii] Chung et al. International ERS/ATS guidelines on definition, evaluation and treatment of severe asthma. European Respiratory Journal Feb 2014, 43(2) 343-373; DOI: 1183/09031936.00202013.