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Correspondence |

Bronchial ThermoplastyBronchial Thermoplasty: Ready for Prime Time - The Evidence Is There! FREE TO VIEW

Mario Castro, MD, MPH, FCCP; Gerard Cox, MB; Michael E. Wechsler, MD, MMSc; Robert M. Niven, MD
Author and Funding Information

From the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine (Dr Castro), Washington University School of Medicine; Firestone Institute of Respiratory Health (Dr Cox), St. Joseph’s Healthcare; National Jewish Health (Dr Wechsler); and University of Manchester and University Hospital of South Manchester (Dr Niven).

CORRESPONDENCE TO: Mario Castro, MD, MPH, FCCP, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S Euclid Ave, Campus Box 8052, St. Louis, MO 63110; e-mail: castrom@wustl.edu


FINANCIAL/NONFINANCIAL DISCLOSURES: The authors have reported to CHEST the following conflicts of interest: Dr Castro receives university grant monies from the National Institutes of Health and American Lung Association and pharmaceutical grant monies from Amgen Inc; Boston Scientific Corporation; Ception Therapeutics, Inc and Cephalon Inc, subsidiaries of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd; Genentech, Inc; GlaxoSmithKline plc; KaloBios; MedImmune, LLC; Nexbio, Inc; Novartis AG; sanofi aventis US LLC; and Vectura Group plc. He receives royalties from Elsevier BV and consultant fees from Boston Scientific Corporation; Genentech, Inc; Holaira Inc; and NeoStem, Inc. Dr Castro receives speaking fees from GlaxoSmithKline plc, Genentech Inc, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, Boston Scientific Corporation, and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. He has stock options with Sparo Labs. Dr Cox has participated in clinical research trials of bronchial thermoplasty supported by Asthmatx, Inc/Boston Scientific Corporation and has received consultant and speaking fees related to bronchial thermoplasty. Dr Wechsler has received honoraria from Boston Scientific Corporation for consulting and for speaking engagements. Dr Niven has received lecture fees for international lectures from Boston Scientific Corporation over the past 3 years and has received lecture fees from or participated on the advisory boards of AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, GlaxoSmithKline plc, Novartis Corporation, and Vectura Group plc.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2015;147(2):e73-e74. doi:10.1378/chest.14-2296
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Published online
To the Editor:

The challenging of previously published work and reviews of studies with a new and different perspective is rational and academically appropriate when performed with scientific rigor and accuracy. However, we were surprised by the recent commentary in CHEST (July 2014) by Iyer and Lim1 regarding bronchial thermoplasty (BT).

In questioning the evidence supporting the benefits of BT, the authors’ speculation that one patient with multiple hospitalizations drove the entire statistical difference between the groups is unfounded. The reduction in ED visits of 84% between the BT and sham groups2 changes to a reduction of 70% when the outlier is excluded.

Asthma severity was defined according to recognized standards at the time the Asthma Intervention Research (AIR)-2 trial was designed. Thus, in response to the authors’ question, 86% of the BT group and 88% of the sham group were indeed severe per American Thoracic Society criteria for severe refractory asthma3 and had, on average, only 17% symptom-free days, further demonstrating poor asthma control.

The authors’ contention that an AQLQ (Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire) difference of 0.19 in the AIR-2 trial would not reflect any meaningful improvement in AQLQ for patients or clinicians is incorrect because a group mean change does not reflect individual patient improvement. Consistent with the validation of the AQLQ,4 the clinical meaningfulness of this difference was determined by the demonstration of more patients in the BT group (79%) achieving the minimally important difference of 0.5 compared with the sham group (64%) (posterior probability superiority [ppsuperiority], 99.6%).

The authors’ contention that there was no difference in severe exacerbations and time lost from work, school, and other activities related to asthma is also inaccurate. There was a 32% reduction in severe exacerbations (ppsuperiority, 95.5%) and a 66% reduction in days lost (ppsuperiority, 99.3%) compared with the sham group.2 These measures were prespecified as “other” end points and were predefined in the statistical analysis plan.

The authors’ statement that the benefits seen in the sham group might have been sustained after 1 year is speculative and irrelevant. Published data show that patients with asthma receiving high-intensity treatment (ie, high-dose inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting β-agonists in the index year) do not experience an improvement in exacerbations or hospitalizations due to asthma over time.5 Regardless of whether the sham subjects’ asthma status was maintained, the benefit of BT in AQLQ and other end points was superior to sham at 1 year.2 Careful follow-up of > 85% of the BT group out to 5 years demonstrated that the reduction in severe exacerbations seen in year 1 was maintained with no safety concerns.6

The authors have misrepresented the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process and the FDA Modernization Act of 1997. The contention that BT was approved based on the results of a single trial is wrong. The FDA panel of independent experts examined data from four clinical trials and found the data to be compelling and meeting criteria for safety and effectiveness, leading to its recommendation that BT be approved for treating severe asthma in appropriately selected patients. For a single center’s view to be published without review for accuracy, even as a commentary, is surprising and potentially damaging to efforts to bring new and effective therapy to patients.

References

Iyer VN, Lim KG. Bronchial thermoplasty: reappraising the evidence (or lack thereof). Chest. 2014;146(1):17-21. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Castro M, Rubin AS, Laviolette M, et al; AIR2 Trial Study Group. Effectiveness and safety of bronchial thermoplasty in the treatment of severe asthma: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled clinical trial. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010;181(2):116-124. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
American Thoracic Society. Proceedings of the ATS workshop on refractory asthma: current understanding, recommendations, and unanswered questions. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2000;162(6):2341-2351. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Juniper EF, Guyatt GH, Willan A, Griffith LE. Determining a minimal important change in a disease-specific Quality of Life Questionnaire. J Clin Epidemiol. 1994;47(1):81-87. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Schatz M, Meckley LM, Kim M, Stockwell BT, Castro M. Asthma exacerbation rates in adults are unchanged over a 5-year period despite high-intensity therapy. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2014;2(5):570-574. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Wechsler ME, Laviolette M, Rubin AS, et al; Asthma Intervention Research 2 Trial Study Group. Bronchial thermoplasty: long-term safety and effectiveness in patients with severe persistent asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013;132(6):1295-1302. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 

Figures

Tables

References

Iyer VN, Lim KG. Bronchial thermoplasty: reappraising the evidence (or lack thereof). Chest. 2014;146(1):17-21. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Castro M, Rubin AS, Laviolette M, et al; AIR2 Trial Study Group. Effectiveness and safety of bronchial thermoplasty in the treatment of severe asthma: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled clinical trial. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010;181(2):116-124. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
American Thoracic Society. Proceedings of the ATS workshop on refractory asthma: current understanding, recommendations, and unanswered questions. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2000;162(6):2341-2351. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Juniper EF, Guyatt GH, Willan A, Griffith LE. Determining a minimal important change in a disease-specific Quality of Life Questionnaire. J Clin Epidemiol. 1994;47(1):81-87. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Schatz M, Meckley LM, Kim M, Stockwell BT, Castro M. Asthma exacerbation rates in adults are unchanged over a 5-year period despite high-intensity therapy. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2014;2(5):570-574. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Wechsler ME, Laviolette M, Rubin AS, et al; Asthma Intervention Research 2 Trial Study Group. Bronchial thermoplasty: long-term safety and effectiveness in patients with severe persistent asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013;132(6):1295-1302. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
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