Severe asthma is a rare disease in children, for which three biologicals, anti-immunoglobulin E, anti-interleukin-5 and anti-IL4RA antibodies, are available in European countries. While global guidelines exist on who should receive biologicals, knowledge is lacking on how those guidelines are implemented in real life and which unmet needs exist in the field. In this survey, we aimed to investigate the status quo and identify open questions in biological therapy of childhood asthma across Europe.
Structured interviews regarding experience with biologicals, regulations on access to the different treatment options, drug selection, therapy success and discontinuation of therapy were performed. Content analysis was used to analyse data.
We interviewed 37 experts from 25 European countries and Turkey and found a considerable range in the number of children treated with biologicals per centre. All participating countries provide public access to at least one biological. Most countries allow different medical disciplines to prescribe biologicals to children with asthma, and only a few restrict therapy to specialised centres. We observed significant variation in the time point at which treatment success is assessed, in therapy duration and in the success rate of discontinuation. Most participating centres intend to apply a personalised medicine approach in the future to match patients a priori to available biologicals.
Substantial differences exist in the management of childhood severe asthma across Europe, and the need for further studies on biomarkers supporting selection of biologicals, on criteria to assess therapy response and on how/when to end therapy in stable patients is evident.