Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an incurable and progressive disease characterized by a persistent reduction of airflow in lungs. For patients suffering from this disease, it becomes harder and harder to breathe. As the disease gets worse, shortness of breath makes it harder to remain active. That is why patients become more sedentary in the long term and they are advised to be more active. Even a light exercise may lead to dyspnea (shortness of breath) which in turn may lead to hospitalization(s).
The standard treatment for COPD is steroid-based inhalers which temporarily improve lung function. They do a good job at managing the condition, but the #1 unmet need for COPD patients is their inability to perform light exercise, such as going for short walks or walking up stairs. Rescue inhalers show effect after some delay which does not help dyspnea instantaneously. Besides, patients risk steroid overdose as the frequency of usage rises.
Using a new approach, with a customer-centric method to determine the biggest pains suffered by COPD patients, Philips Respironics developed VitaBreath. It is a handheld bilevel continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device that provides relief from activity-related shortness of breath with a drug free therapy. It overcomes the problem of dynamic hyperinflation by providing an assistive pressure on inhalation, and maintaining the airways opened on exhalation. This improves patients’ quality of life, increases their confidence in their social lives and provides faster relief with more exercise opportunities.
Philips conducted a pilot launch of the product in the UK, but concluded it did not have the right sales channels to achieve success, after which NLC took over. The product is final and has been approved for sales in Europe. It received very positive patient feedback. Next steps include determining the right go-to-market strategy and geographical focus (including potentially FDA approval) and gathering the right clinical evidence to support this.