Asthma Biologics

Published on 1 December 2021

What is Asthma Biologics?

Improving outcomes for patients with respiratory disease is a clinical priority in the NHS Long Term Plan. To support delivery of this commitment, the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) selected asthma biologics as a Rapid Uptake Product (RUP). These are medicines approved by NICE but that are not yet integrated into everyday practice.

Why is Asthma Biologics required?

Severe asthma is a specific type of asthma which is difficult to control, even with optimised inhaled asthma medication. It is a complex condition which may be driven by different inflammatory pathways, but typically severe asthma patients face a substantial burden of illness, marked reductions in quality of life and require a significant amount of health resource.

Many people with severe asthma live with poor asthma control typified by emergency trips to hospital, intensive care and regular doses of strong oral corticosteroids. These oral steroids may stop the asthma symptoms, but they can have devastating side effects on physical and mental health, from kidney and bone damage to insomnia, anxiety and depression.

Severe asthma is associated with very high healthcare costs due to medication use, unscheduled healthcare utilisation and management of oral steroid-related adverse events. These costs have been shown to be four times higher for uncontrolled severe asthma patients than the general asthma population.

What solution does Asthma Biologics provide?

Asthma biologics work in a targeted way by disrupting pathways causing airways inflammation, helping to manage symptoms, reduce relapses and may also reduce reliance on other medicines such as oral steroids. Currently there are four NICE approved biologics for severe asthma: omalizumab, mepolizumab, reslizumab and benralizumab. They are given as an injection or infusion (depending on which biologic is being taken), either regularly in hospital or self-injected by patients at home.

What impact does Asthma Biologics have?

  • Reduced need for steroids (and therefore reduced associated side effects)
  • Reduced asthma attacks and asthma-related hospital admissions
  • Improvement in symptoms and quality of life
  • Improvement in lung function (in some patients).

Asthma Biologics is one of four pathways and innovations being supported through the 2020-2022 RUP Programme.

How do you find out more?

More information on asthma biologics is available on the Oxford Health Innovation Network website: click here.

HIWM are collaborating with UHNM – Royal Stoke Hospital who are managing a project to increase the uptake of asthma biologics. Please do look at these case studies based on real patient experiences of starting asthma biologics, which can be found by clicking here.

End of programme statement – 31 March 2023

The national Biologics programme has now closed (end March 2023). To read the end of programme statement please click here


Project team

Emma Suggett

Medicines Optimisation Lead

Rabia Gowa

Innovation Programme Manager (Medicines Optimisation)

Anisha Leith

Innovation Project Manager

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