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GSK's COPD Triple Inhaled Therapy Gets Insurance Benefits

GSK said Wednesday that Trelegy Ellipta (ingredient: fluticasone furoate, umeclidinium, vilanterol), a triple inhaled therapy that reduces the mortality rate of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients, has begun to receive insurance benefits from this month.

At an online conference to celebrate the reimbursement, the company explained its new product's clinical efficacy and other aspects in detail.

Professor Rhee Chin-kook of the Department of Pulmonology and Allergy at St. Mary's Hospital explains the results of GSK's triple inhaled therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at an online conference on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Drug and Safety approved Trelegy Ellipta in May 2018. The drug won authorization to treat moderate and severe COPD patients whose symptoms had not been controlled properly with long-acting beta 2 agonist and inhaled corticosteroids. Patients above 18 with mild to severe symptoms will benefit from the Ministry of Health and Welfare's decision.

Trelegy Ellipta is the first triple inhaled therapy to receive insurance coverage for treating COPD patients in Korea. 

At the online meeting, Cho Eun-young, GSK Korea's medical advisor, presented the therapeutic strategies of Trelegy Ellipta according to the severity of symptoms in COPD patients and the significance of customized treatment options for each patient using the Ellipta inhaler.

"Major COPD therapy guidelines of Korea and other countries classify patient groups by the severity of symptoms and risk of worsening, and they recommend detailed treatment strategies in consideration of individual patient's condition and prognosis," Cho said. "We can now provide various treatment options for all COPD patients and increase the convenience of therapy with Trelegy Ellipta."

St. Mary's Hospital Professor Rhee Chin-kook said, "There were about 50,000 severe COPD patients in Korea who need the triple inhaled therapy last year, accounting for about 24 percent of the total COPT patients."

Professor Rhee said that there are about 100,000 to 200,000 estimated COPD patients in the nation. Still, the number could surge to more than three million if underdiagnosed patients due to low awareness and mild symptoms are included.

Rhee noted that the Korean Academy of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases, American Thoracic Society, and Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease recommend using triple combination inhalers to prevent worsened symptoms and lower the risk of hospitalization for those who do not show improvement with dual therapy.

"Trelegy Ellipta has shown excellent therapeutic effects as it prevented COPD patients from progressing from moderate to severe symptoms while improving the lung function and quality of life in FULFIL, IMPACT, and INTREPID clinical trials," Rhee said. "We expect Trelegy Ellipta to improve the prognosis of Korean COPD patients who require a tripe inhaled therapy."

However, Rhee said that pharmaceutical companies would probably not compare its triple therapy with other's products as it costs too much to conduct such clinical trials.

GSK Korea CEO Rob Kempton said, "COPD is a progressive lung disease that gets worse over time, and many patients develop their symptoms, which place the burden on patients' lives and health care systems. We are glad to provide the triple inhaled therapy that COPD patients only need to use once a day and will continue to help more COPD patients in Korea."