EMBARGOED until 09.30, Friday 16th July
The launch of BPL’s subcutaneous immunoglobulin, was celebrated today at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London. This is the first time that a subcutaneous immunoglobulin has been licenced in the UK for treating children with primary immunodeficiencies (PID) as well as adults, offering effective and easy-to-use treatment for PID. Its ease of use means that more patients can be treated cost-effectively at home.
The real prevalence of PID is unknown. It is estimated that approximately 3000 patients are actively treated in England and Wales. PIDs are genetic disorders where the body's immune system – which acts as the body’s defence system - fails to function properly, and does not produce sufficient antibodies (immunoglobulins) to enable the body to fight infection. This means PID patients need lifelong immunoglobulin replacement therapy to boost the body’s defences and prevent or reduce recurrent infections. Immunotherapy is commonly administered intravenously in hospital.
Subcutaneous immunoglobulin offers several advantages compared to intravenous immunoglobulins, which are not suitable for all patients. Primarily, its ease of use allows many more patients to be treated at home, giving them the freedom to fit therapy around their daily lives, reducing the frequency of hospital visits and saving time taken off work and school.
It is delivered by subcutaneous infusion over a period of about 1 hour, using a portable syringe driver. The syringe driver is a small pump that can be strapped to the body allowing the patient to move around freely while their treatment is being delivered.
The use of subcutaneous immunoglobulin could add benefits in terms of reducing the burden on hospital resources. It has been estimated that use of home-based subcutaneous immunoglobulin therapy would potentially save healthcare services £17,041 per patient over five years, compared to hospital-based, intravenous therapy.1
Mrs Jill Heraud, mother of 9-year old Ben, who has a primary immunodeficiency, said: “Being able to use Subgam® at home has made a real difference to our lives. Ben can now be a child again – going to school every day and playing football with his friends – rather than taking time out for regular hospital appointments. Now he is getting older it is more important that he doesn’t miss school and other activities so we fit his therapy around them.”
Subcutaneous immunoglobulin has been shown to be an effective treatment for PIDs, maintaining the patient’s health and improving quality of life. 1 In a recent study of 50 patients (15 children under 12 years and 35 adults aged 12 and over) with stable PID, patients treated with subcutaneous immunoglobulin were well maintained having a similarly low incidence of infections as when on their previous treatment (most patients had been on intravenous immunoglobulins previously, some on subcutaneous immunoglobulins).1
More than half (51%) of the patients in the study said they felt ‘better’ or ‘much better’ on subcutaneous immunoglobulin compared to their previous treatment. The ease of use of the treatment was demonstrated by 48 of the 50 patients who quickly achieved the necessary skills to treat themselves at home.1
Speaking at the launch of BPL’s subcutaneous immunoglobulin product Dr Alison Jones, Great Ormond Street Hospital said: “It offers several benefits compared with IVIG, including the potential for home-based therapy for more patients. Many patients and families find this form of treatment more convenient than IVIG because they can fit their treatment around their daily lives. They are free to move around and stay active whilst having their infusions, which is a particular advantage in young children. Another significant benefit for younger patients is the ease of giving infusions under the skin compared with the need to insert a cannula into a vein – which can be difficult and distressing.”
This product has been developed and is manufactured by Bio Products Laboratory, a non-profit making, research-based organisation that is part of the National Blood Authority, within the National Health Service. 1 It is produced using a quality assurance process than ensures consistently high quality and safety using a process very similar to their well established intravenous immunoglobulin product.1
1. Subgam® Product Monograph. Bio Products Laboratory. June 2004
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