Oct 16, 2014 10:05 AM EDT
The Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) has finally approved the use of Roche's "Esbriet" and Boehringer Ingelheim's "Ofev", two highly-coveted drugs that are said to slow the progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a fatal lung disease whose cause is unknown and which has no known cure yet.
The F.D.A. said that patients with IPF experience shortness of breath, cough, and have difficulty participating in everyday physical activities. Current treatments for IPF include oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, and lung transplant.
The said illness affects roughly 100,000 Americans with 40 per cent of patients getting killed within five years of diagnosis.
"IPF mainly affects people over the age of 60 and leads to the deterioration of the patients' ability to breathe. The best treatment is a lung transplant, but most patients aren't eligible for the procedure because of their age and severity of their disease," according to reports from the Wall Street Journal.
The said drugs are said to be an effective treatment for the disease which is marked by scarring of the lungs. Though the said medications do not make people better, they slow down the rate at which lung function drops in some patients, according to The New York Times.
Dr. Gary M. Hunninghake, Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital lung-disease specialist, said, "People are not getting better; they are getting worse less quickly."
"The idea (that) we can even do anything to improve the lives of patients is a very big deal," he added.
Chief executive of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Daniel M. Rose echoed the excitement of the people following the availability of the drugs in the U.S.
"It's very exciting to have two approved therapies now for a disease for which there were no approved therapies. There's a lot of enthusiasm and excitement within the patient community," he said in a report.
The price of these drugs are said to be expensive though-almost two to three times the price compared to its price in Canada and Europe. Wholesale price for Esbriet is $7,800 a month in the U.S.
On the other hand, Boehringer officials said they would not disclose the price of Ofev until the drug became available, which they said would be in 10 days, according to the New York Times .
Both drugs are pills, with Esbriet known as pirfenidone, and Ofev is known as nintedanib.
In their respective clinical trials, both were compared with a placebo and were shown to slow the decrease in lung function, as measured by breathing tests, reports from New York Times said.