New asthma pill
Scientists in the United Kingdom have developed a new pill that could reduce the severity of asthma in adults. FRANCK FIFE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Scientists in the United Kingdom have developed a new pill that could reduce the severity of asthma in adults.

In a study published Friday in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, researchers at Leicester University found that patients who tried the new drug Fevipiprant showed a drop in their symptoms, including a reduction in lung inflammations and improvement in lung function. There were also signs that the drug helped repair the lining of the patients’ airways.

“This new drug could be a gamechanger for future treatment of asthma”, lead author if the study Chris Brightling reportedly said. “I’m excited by how effective it’s likely to be and also about its potential to reduce the need for patients to take oral steroids. Those people would be able to stop taking those drugs, which would make a huge difference to them.”

Charity organization Asthma U.K.’s Director of Research and Policy Samantha Walker said in a statement, “This research shows massive promise and should be greeted with cautious optimism. The possibility of taking a pill instead of using an inhaler will be a very welcome one among the 5.4 million people in the U.K. with asthma.”

The researchers studied 60 patients who had severe asthma despite using steroid inhalers and were regularly inspected by specialists. Of the 60 patients, 30 were given Fevipiprant for three months in addition to their regular medicines. The other half were given a placebo pill instead of Fevipiprant.

Patients who took Fevipiprant had fewer inflammatory blood cells in their phlegm and airways, the study found

Gaye Stokes, a patient who has had severe asthma for 16 years, reportedly said, “I knew straight away that I had been given the drug.I felt like a completely different person. I had more get up and go, I was less wheezy and for the first time in years, I felt really, really well.” She added that once she stopped taking the pill her conditioned deteriorated.

Researchers said that this was just the first step adding that larger studies and long-term trials are required to see if the pill can be used in everyday life.

“More research is needed and we’re a long way off seeing a pill for asthma being made available over the pharmacy counter, but it’s an exciting development and one which, in the long term, could offer a real alternative to current treatments,” Walker said.