A new technology that encourages child asthmatics to take medications has been hailed by experts as a breakthrough device, after a landmark study, showed children were 180% more likely to comply with drug regimes.
A metered-dose inhaler (MDI) is a device that delivers a specific amount of medication to the lungs, in the form of a short burst of aerosolized medicine that is usually self-administered by the patient via inhalation. It is the most commonly used delivery system for treating asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory diseases. A variety of asthma inhalers are available to help control asthma symptoms in adults and children. Certain types of asthma inhalers may work better for you than do others. Finding the right asthma inhaler can help make sure you get the right dose of medication to prevent or treat asthma attacks whenever you need it. The medication in a metered dose inhaler is most commonly a bronchodilator, corticosteroid or a combination of both for the treatment of asthma and COPD. Other medications less commonly used but also administered by MDI are mast cell stabilizers, such as cromoglicate or nedocromil.
The new Smart-inhaler device called the SmartTrack developed by respiratory technology company Nexus6, includes an audio visual reminder function with standard inhaler technology and has been trialled on 220 New Zealand children between 6 and 15 years old, in what is believed to be the largest global study of medication adherence using audio visual reminder technology.
Researchers from Cure Kids, the Health Research Council and the University of Auckland found that those children who had audio reminders turned on were 180% more likely to take prescribed medications than those in the control arm, and had a 45% reduction in rescue medication use.
Cure Kids Chairman of Child Health Research Professor Ed Mitchell said children using the audio visual reminders had an overall medication of adherence of 84% with their prescribed medications, compared to just 30% in those who did not have this additional reminder. In addition, only 9.5% of children using the audio visual reminder required interventionist 'rescue' medication to alleviate symptoms, compared to 17.4% in the control group.
Describing the trial results as "absolutely staggering", Professor Mitchell said that the device provided great opportunity to improve quality of life for young asthma sufferers, with widespread evidence acknowledging that adherence to chronic medication regimes is often poor.
"Doctors can only guess at how often an inhaler has been used or not, and how much a patient's symptoms are a feature of the disease or due to deficient use of the prescribed medications," he explained.
We know that medication adherence dramatically reduces the risk of attack.
"This important study shows that new technology like the SmartTrack device can substantially improve symptom control, well-being and overall quality of life."
Children enrolled in the study were also provided a Smart-inhaler device for tracking their rescue medication usage. Researchers were able to measure the amount of relief medication they used and their usage patterns.
This detail provided researchers with important information about how frequently the asthma was out of control - with recent studies demonstrating that overuse of the rescue or 'blue' inhaler is a predictor of worsening asthma and general morbidity.
The Smart-inhaler products are the brainchild of lifelong asthmatic Garth Sutherland, who founded Nexus6 12 years ago, with the aim of developing a device that could automatically track his own medication use to improve his condition.
SmartTrack technology works by fitting a sensor over a standard inhaler.
It has 14 different ringtones, alerting users only when they miss a dose. These latest trial results are expected to spark global demand for the technology.
Nexus6 had no role in the trial beyond designing and supplying SmartTrack devices and reporting software at the outset.
The device has US FDA, CE, TGA and NZ approvals and Nexus6 is exploring opportunities for launching the product direct to doctors and patients.
Nexus6 Smart-inhalers have been the subject of more than 40 clinical studies in over 10 countries, with data on the impact of their use on over 15,000 patients published in 30 medical publications. This latest device builds on existing technology.
Nexus6 Chairman Dr Doug Wilson, a global respiratory device development veteran, commented: "If these results were from use of a new medication, that would be the blockbuster medication of the decade. How often have asthma patients struggled with their disease, when the solution is so simple"
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