Experts call for referral protocols to improve PH care

Attendees emphasized need for comprehensive approach to treatment

Mary Chapman avatar

by Mary Chapman |

Share this article:

Share article via email
A doctor hands a glass of water to a patient who is taking an oral medication.

Note: This story was corrected July 10, 2023, to reflect that attendees at the European Cardiac and Respiratory Societies discussed the therapy Tyvaso with regard to the 2022 pulmonary hypertension diagnosis and treatment guidelines.

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) experts are calling for care protocols to expedite patient referrals to specialists to make diagnoses and begin treatment sooner.

The importance of early referrals was a key topic during the recent International Meeting on Pulmonary Hypertension Clinical Treatment (IMPAHCT) in Barcelona, Spain. The event was attended by some 150 pulmonologists and cardiologists from more than 30 countries, as well as by representatives of European patient organizations.

The gathering was organized by Ferrer, which has exclusive rights to market Tyvaso (inhaled treprostinil) for treating PH associated with interstitial lung disease (ILD) — characterized by lung scarring — outside North America, China, Japan, and Israel. Tyvaso is approved in the U.S. for ILD-associated PH and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a type of PH caused by the narrowing of the small blood vessels that transport blood through the lungs.

Attendees emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach to treatment, which would enable more personalized and better care, according to Ferrer. The first requires accurate and timely diagnoses. Despite recent advances, it takes more than two years from the onset of symptoms to a PAH diagnosis.

Recommended Reading
A doctor listens to a patient who is making a point.

Distance, access to primary care affect referrals for CTEPH treatment

Better PH care through quicker referrals

“It would be great if pneumologists and cardiologists, whenever they suspect PH or see signs or symptoms suggestive of PH, could refer patients to a specialized center and accelerate the diagnosis, allowing to initiate therapy and improve their prognosis and quality of life,” Gabor Kovacs, pulmonologist and professor at the Medical University of Graz, Austria, said in a press release. “It would also help for the general public to recognize some of the signs of the disease, like feeling breathless while practicing sport, and take them seriously.”

Jorge Cuneo, Ferrer’s chief medical officer, said the “diseases have a low prevalence, and, unfortunately, this means that there are numerous unmet medical needs. In addition, pulmonary hypertension has a very high mortality rate, so it is crucial to act rapidly as early diagnosis can make a significant difference to the prognosis of the disease.”

Speaking for the patient community, representatives of the main European associations said the proposed approaches were on the behalf of the unmet medical and social needs of people with PH.

As part of discussions about the 2022 PH diagnosis and treatment guidelines from the European Cardiac and Respiratory Societies, attendees also anticipated the broader use of non-orally delivered prostacyclins such as Tyvaso to improve care outcomes. Prostacyclins are naturally produced molecules found at abnormally low levels in PAH patients. Treprostinil, Tyvaso’s active ingredient, works by mimicking prostacyclins.

“As a company committed to innovation and the development of transformative therapeutic solutions, we are pleased to contribute to the research and accessibility of these therapies,” said Oscar Perez, Ferrer’s chief marketing, market access and pricing, and business development officer. “It is also a pleasure to have the support of the medical community and representatives of patient associations at this event.”

A Conversation With Rare Disease Advocates