New patient-led roadmap provides blueprint to tackle the burden of asthma

Monday, 8 May 2017

Contributed by Pippa Powell, Director of the European Lung Foundation

On Tuesday 2nd May 2017, the world came together to mark World Asthma Day with the aim of raising awareness, care and support for those infected and affected by asthma.

In line with this, a new roadmap has been published identifying key priority areas that need to be addressed to tackle the burden of asthma. The roadmap, which has come out of the European Asthma Research and Innovation Partnership (EARIP), suggests that a unified approach to research is urgently needed to address the challenge of asthma in Europe and improve the lives of people living with the condition.  

EARIP, led by a consortium including European Lung Foundation and Asthma UK, carried out extensive literature reviews and a pan-European consultation with patients and professionals to develop the recommendations, which are intended to inform researchers of the most effective ways to address the impact of asthma on the individual, healthcare systems, and national and European economies. The consultation brought together 28 experts from 15 European countries comprising: patients, patient organisations, primary healthcare professionals (HCPs), secondary HCPs, researchers, industry representatives and policy influencers.

An editorial was published on 2 May, 2017 in the European Respiratory Journal to coincide with World Asthma Day, as asthma remains a major global health burden, affecting more than 300 million people worldwide and at least 10% of all Europeans.

A key priority identified in the roadmap was to assess the effectiveness of patient–professional communication and to develop patient–professional partnerships, for example to optimise self-management and adherence to medication.

It also recommends that more research is needed into the role of exposure to environmental factors, such as smoking and air pollution, on childhood development and long-term asthma management, in addition to investing more funding into developing personalised medicines to tackle the complex needs of individual asthma patients.

The consortium believes the priorities identified should be seen as a blueprint for progression towards a cure for asthma. They are now calling for funders, research commissioners, institutes and industry to adopt the priorities as part of their research work plans and help achieve the realisation of this vision through harmonised efforts.

Asthma is a chronic disease characterised by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing; the causes of asthma are not completely understood and it cannot be cured, but appropriate management can control the disorder and enable people to enjoy a normal quality of life (WHO).