Emirates Allergy & Respiratory Society discusses latest medical advancements in severe asthma management

The United Arab Emirates – 11th February 2019: The Emirates Allergy & Respiratory Society held a media roundtable that focused on the recent medical advancements related to severe asthma in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). During the event, which was supported by AstraZeneca, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, Dr. Bassam Mahboub, MD FRCPC, Consultant Pulmonologist, Head of Pulmonary Medicine at Rashid Hospital and President of the Emirates Allergy & Respiratory Society said that asthma in the UAE is undertreated and adherence to asthma guidelines remains poor.[1]

It is imperative, according to Dr. Mahboub, that general physicians who are responsible for the diagnosis and management of most asthmatics need to be updated to improve the asthma control methods and to lessen the gap between long-term goals of asthma management and the existing condition in the UAE.

Attendees also noted that Eosinophilic Asthma (e-asthma), a form of asthma associated with high levels of white blood cells is considered a leading cause of severe asthma, affecting up to 50 percent of people with the severe form of the disease.[2]

Dr. Bassam Mahboub, MD FRCPC, Consultant Pulmonologist, Head of Pulmonary Medicine at Rashid Hospital and President of the Emirates Allergy & Respiratory Society said, “It is important people with asthma recognise when their symptoms aren’t getting any better. When left untreated, severe asthma can heavily impact a person’s quality. E-Asthma is a kind of severe asthma that can cause inflammation in the airways, severe attacks and more harm to the lungs. A specific cause for e-asthma has not been identified. While other forms of asthma are triggered by allergic responses to environmental factors, such as pollen or pet hair, eosinophilic asthma does not develop in this way.”

As severe e-asthma can be difficult to control, people are likely to experience frequent asthma symptoms, flare-ups and even hospitalization, all whilst still taking their daily reliever and preventer medications.[3] [4] [5]

Professor Roland Buhl, Professor of Medicine at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and Head of the Pulmonary Department at Mainz University Hospital, Germany also noted, “Asthma diagnosis requires the presence of more than one of the respiratory symptoms, worsening of the symptoms at night and exacerbation of the symptoms by viral infection, exercise, allergens, changing weather or smoke.[6]

“The disease can cause a considerable burden on the physical, social, and professional lives of affected individuals and family. According to the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) and the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS), there has been an increase in the general prevalence of asthma. Although the prevalence of the disease is more in developed countries, evidence in recent years has shown a sharp increase in developing countries due to the impact of urbanization’’

The current level of asthma control in the UAE is far from optimal with 64% of patients suffering from sudden severe attacks of asthma.[7] 17% of adult asthmatics missing work and 53% of children missing schools due to their condition.

Ismail Shehada, AstraZeneca’s Country president GCC said, “The impact of asthma in the UAE and the wider region requires immediate action to increase awareness and overall understanding amongst healthcare workers, healthcare providers, and governments. We are committed to addressing the key unmet needs in asthma, and our aim is to transform the paradigm of treatment of asthma by delivering scientific advancements in disease modification.”

“Thanks to recent medical advancements, a common blood test can measure the eosinophil count. It’s often part of patients’ routine blood work. We encourage patients who often use their inhalers to control asthma-related symptoms, or wake up at night due to severe attacks and have required emergency care to ask their medical practitioners for an asthma blood test. These signs can be related to severe asthma that is uncontrolled or e-asthma. It is necessary to increase the awareness amongst patients and update doctors about asthma control guidelines for attaining optimal asthma control, and thus reducing the burden of the disease,” added Dr. Mahboub.

The event took place in the presence of leading local and international respiratory experts who were engaged in an interactive session to shed light on latest medical and scientific insights on treatment and management of respiratory diseases, including severe asthma. Doctors stressed on the importance of early detection of the symptoms and proper adherence to treatment protocols.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three therapy areas – Oncology, Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism and Respiratory. The Company also is selectively active in the areas of autoimmunity, neuroscience and infection. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.

For more information, please visit www.astrazeneca.com and follow us on Twitter @AstraZeneca.

About AstraZeneca in Respiratory Disease

Respiratory disease is one of AstraZeneca’s main therapy areas, and the Company has a growing portfolio of medicines that reached more than 18 million patients in 2017. AstraZeneca’s aim is to transform asthma and COPD treatment through inhaled combinations at the core of care, biologics for the unmet needs of specific patient populations, and scientific advancements in disease modification.

The Company is building on a 40-year heritage in respiratory disease and AstraZeneca’s capability in inhalation technology spans pressurised metered-dose inhalers and dry powder inhalers, as well as the Aerosphere Delivery Technology. The company’s biologics include Fasenra, (anti-eosinophil, anti-IL-5rɑ), which is now approved in the US, EU, Japan, and is under regulatory review in other jurisdictions, and tezepelumab (anti-TSLP), which successfully achieved its Phase IIb primary and secondary endpoints and has initiated Phase III. AstraZeneca’s research is focused on addressing underlying disease drivers focusing on the lung epithelium, lung immunity and lung regeneration.


[1] Asthma insights and reality in the UAE | https://www.researchgate.net/publication/47567126_Asthma_insights_and_reality_in_the_United_Arab_Emirates

[2] Eosinophilic asthma: Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment | Medical News Today | https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319466.php

[3] O’Neill, S., Sweeney, J., Patterson, C. C., Menzies-Gow, A., Niven, R., Mansur, A. H., & Bucknall, C., et al. (2015). The cost of treating severe refractory asthma in the UK: an economic analysis from the British Thoracis Society Dicult Asthma Registry. Thorax, 70, 376-378

[4] . Foster, J. M., Mcdonald, V., Gup, M., & Reddel, H. K. (2017). “I have lost in every facet of my life:: the hidden burden of severe asthma. European Respiratory Journal, 50(1700765)

[5] Mcdonald, V., Maltby, S., Reddel, H. K., King, G., Wark, P., Smith, L., Upham, J., Marks, G., Gibson, P. (2017). Severe asthma: Current management, targeted therapies and future directions – A roundtable report. Respirology, 22, 53-60

[6] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/crj.12655

[7] Annals of Thoracic Medicine I Asthma insights and reality in the United Arab Emirates I http://www.thoracicmedicine.org/article.asp?issn=1817-1737;year=2010;volume=5;issue=4;spage=217;epage=221;aulast=Mahboub

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