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Pharmacotherapy of Cystic Fibrosis

For the 89,000 patients with cystic fibrosis worldwide, mucolytics, anti-inflammatories, and antibiotics should be used for first-line pulmonary treatments, authors of a review article conclude, and “approximately 90% of people with cystic fibrosis who are 2 years or older may benefit from a combination of ivacaftor, tezacaftor, and elexacaftor.”

“As people with cystic fibrosis age, chronic respiratory bacterial infections cause loss of lung function and bronchiectasis,” write the authors. “With the availability of universal newborn screening in multiple countries including the US, many people with cystic fibrosis are asymptomatic at diagnosis. With multidisciplinary care teams that included dietitians, respiratory therapists, and social workers, treatment of cystic fibrosis can slow disease progression. Median survival has improved from 36.3 years (95% CI, 35.1-37.9) in 2006 to 53.1 years (95% CI, 51.6-54.7) in 2021. Pulmonary therapies for patients with cystic fibrosis consist of mucolytics (eg, dornase alfa), anti-inflammatories (eg, azithromycin), and antibiotics (such as tobramycin delivered by a nebulizer). Four small molecular therapies, termed CFTR modulators, that facilitate CFTR production and/or function have received regulatory approval. Examples are ivacaftor and elexacaftor-tezacaftor-ivacaftor. For example, in patients with 1 F508del variant, the combination of ivacaftor, tezacaftor, and elexacaftor improved lung function from −0.2% in the placebo group to 13.6% (difference, 13.8%; 95% CI, 12.1%-15.4%) and decreased the annualized estimated rate of pulmonary exacerbations from 0.98 to 0.37 (rate ratio, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.25-0.55). Improved respiratory function and symptoms have lasted up to 144 weeks in postapproval observational studies. An additional 177 variants are eligible for treatment with the elexacaftor-tezacaftor-ivacaftor combination.”

Source: JAMA