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SHTAC publishes ‘highly accessed’ systematic review comparing new treatments for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Published: 11 June 2015
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)
IPF can have a considerable impact on day to day life

The systematic review of the effectiveness of treatments for IPF, included a network meta-analysis and indirect comparison, and is now available.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a serious and difficult to manage lung disease, the exact cause of which is not known. It generally affects people over 60 years of age and the main symptom is shortness of breath, which can have a considerable impact on day to day life. Many people with IPF deteriorate rapidly, while others have periods of relative stability. In general people with the disease survive between two to five years. Pirfenidone was licensed for the treatment of IPF in Europe in 2011, and nintedanib gained its European licence in 2015, both having been shown to be beneficial in placebo-controlled randomised clinical trials. However, the treatments have not been directly been compared with each other in clinical trials.

Published in the open access BMC Pulmonary Medicine journal, the research systematically reviewed the clinical effectiveness of treatments for IPF and presented the findings of a network meta-analysis of key outcomes. After initial screening 11 studies were included, 5 RCTs evaluated the use of pirfenidone, 3 N-acetylcysteine and 3 nintedanib.

Two treatments were shown to have beneficial effects, nintedanib slowed the decline of lung function (e.g. breathing problems)and pirfenidone showed trends in improved mortality rates. In an indirect comparison, results indicated that nintedanib was statistically significantly better than pirfenidone in slowing decline in lung function. However, for other measures of effectiveness there were no statistically significant differences between these two treatments. The findings of the review can be used to help inform treatment decisions.

For more information on SHTAC's research into respiratory diseases please visit our Research page.

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