Breathing issues like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affect a combined 41 million Americans.
For some individuals, their conditions require the use of multiple medications in order to manage their symptoms.
Patients who have severe asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that is not sufficiently managed with the use of typical asthma medications may be able to control their symptoms and avoid breathing issues through the use of medications like Breo Ellipta.
What is Breo Ellipta?
Breo Ellipta is a prescription medication that was first approved for the treatment of asthma by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2013.
The medication helps patients manage asthma symptoms when their asthma is not well controlled by inhaled corticosteroids and is also used for the long term treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.
Breo Ellipta is approved for the once-daily treatment of asthma and COPD in patients ages 18 and older and is not intended for use in children.
There are two active ingredients in Breo Ellipta: vilanterol, which belongs to a class of drugs called long-acting beta-2 agonists, or LABA, and fluticasone, which belongs to a class of drugs called systemic corticosteroids.
Many people are able to manage their asthma symptoms through the use of corticosteroids alone, which reduce inflammation, but others need additional medication in the form of a LABA in order to reliably manage their symptoms.
Breo Ellipta should not be used as a quick-acting rescue inhaler for asthma attacks or sudden breathing problems associated with COPD, as it is not designed to work quickly enough to provide aid in an emergency.
What Conditions is Breo Ellipta Used to Treat?
Breo Ellipta is available in two forms depending on which condition it is used to treat. Breo Ellipta 100/25 is used for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults ages 18 and older.
Breo Ellipta is used to treat asthma in adults ages 18 and older whose condition is not well controlled on other asthma medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids.
Asthma is a chronic illness that results in the narrowing and inflammation of the air passages along with the excess production of mucus.
All of these symptoms combine to make it more difficult to breathe.
There is a wide range of asthma severity, so while some people only have a minor form of the illness, others may experience a more serious, life-threatening form of the disease.
Asthma is usually diagnosed through a physical exam, a chest or sinus x-ray, and lung function tests. Symptoms of asthma include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness, and during a serious asthma attack, it is a medical emergency.
Environmental and internal factors like smoke, exercise, extreme weather changes, pollen, chemicals, dust mites, and stress can all trigger asthma attacks and each person’s triggers are different.
It’s very important for people to learn how to identify their triggers and avoid them as much as possible in order to manage their symptoms.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a chronic lung disease that includes symptoms of chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and/or refractory asthma.
Chronic bronchitis is generally characterized by symptoms that include shortness of breath, lingering cough, and excess mucus production.
For a person to be diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, these symptoms must occur at least three months per year for two years in a row.
Emphysema is a condition that is characterized by damage to the alveoli in the lungs, leaving them unable to absorb as much oxygen, which results in shortness of breath.
When asthma is irreversible and doesn’t respond to normal asthma medications, it is called refractory asthma.
There are four different stages of COPD which are distinguished by the severity of the symptoms. However, many people with COPD do not notice any symptoms at all until their condition is advanced.
The most common symptoms of COPD include a productive cough, blue lips or fingernails, wheezing, fatigue, a lingering cough, frequent colds, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and more.
What is the Dosage Amount for Breo Ellipta?
Breo Ellipta is a preventative inhalation powder that helps to manage the symptoms of chronic conditions like asthma and COPD. The asthma control medication is taken once per day regardless of which condition is being treated, although there are two different versions of the drug.
The most common dosage of the medication is 100 mcg/25 mcg, which represents 100 mcg of fluticasone furoate and 25 mcg of vilanterol, but the medication is also available in 200 mcg/25 mcg strength.
The inhaler should be used once per day and is not intended to be used as a rescue medication during COPD-related breathing issues or asthma attacks, as it does not work quickly enough to function as an emergency medication.
The medication is administered in a powdered form via blister packs that are preloaded into the inhaler device.
Each time the inhaler is used, a new blister pack is loaded and opened, providing the medication. The inhaler should always be stored at room temperature.
There are two different strengths of Breo Ellipta, and your doctor will prescribe the appropriate dose for you based on your symptoms and other medical conditions you may have.
If you forget to take your daily dose of the medication, make sure to take the next dose as soon as you remember; however, the medication should only be taken once each day.
After using the inhaler, the manufacturer recommends rinsing your mouth with water in order to reduce the chance of developing a yeast infection known as thrush in the mouth.
How Much Does Breo Ellipta Cost?
No generic version of Breo Ellipta available, as the medication is still manufactured under the patent from the original manufacturer.
With no competition for Breo Ellipta on the market, prices are higher than they might otherwise be when a generic version of the medication is released.
A one month supply of thirty blisters of 100 mcg/25 mcg, which are provided preloaded in an inhaler form, costs approximately 162 dollars.
Not all forms of commercial insurance provide coverage for Breo Ellipta because it is a relatively new medication, but other forms of savings exist regardless of your insured status.
What Risks are Associated With Breo Ellipta?
Breo Ellipta has some risks associated with its use.
Breo Ellipta is a maintenance treatment and not intended as a short-acting bronchodilator for the treatment of sudden symptoms of asthma, and the medication is not intended to function as a rescue inhaler.
Be sure to give your doctor a complete medical history before you use Breo Ellipta, particularly if you meet any of the following criteria:
- Have diabetes or are at increased risk for high blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
- Have weak bones or low bone mineral density
- Are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are currently breastfeeding
- Have high blood pressure
- Have eye problems, including glaucoma, cataracts, increased pressure in the eye, or changes in vision
- Have any type of viral, parasitic, fungal, or bacterial infection
- Have a weak immune system or are immunocompromised
- Have heart problems
- Have thyroid problems
- Have liver problems
- Have seizures
- Are allergic to milk proteins
- Are exposed to measles or chickenpox
- Taking beta blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, ritonavir, or ketoconazole (drug interaction may occur with Breo Ellipta inhaler)
- Are breastfeeding, as this drug can pass into breast milk
What Side Effects are Associated With Breo Ellipta?
Common side effects of Breo Ellipta vary depending on whether the patient is using the medication for the treatment of asthma or COPD.
- Back pain
- Joint pain
- Upper respiratory tract infection
- Thrush or candidiasis in the mouth or throat (can be treated with antifungal)
- Mouth and throat pain
- Increased blood pressure
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Inflammation of the sinuses
When taken for asthma, common side effects include:
- Runny nose
- Exacerbation of breathing problems (bronchitis)
- Thrush in the throat or mouth
- Sore throat
- Hoarseness and voice changes
- Respiratory tract infection
- Inflammation of the sinuses
- Mouth and throat pain
Rarely, Breo Ellipta causes serious side effects that require medical attention, including allergic reactions and infections.
Serious side effects of Breo Ellipta used for either COPD or asthma that may require medical attention include:
- Weakened immune system and increased susceptibility to infections (immunosuppression)
- Fungal infection in the mouth or throat (thrush)
- Sudden breathing problems immediately after inhaling the medication
- Effects on the heart, including:
- Fast heart rate or irregular heartbeat or awareness of heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Serious allergic reactions to the medication or its ingredients, as evidenced by:
- Swelling of the face, tongue, or mouth
- Breathing problems
- Slow growth in children and adolescents
- Reduced adrenal function or adrenal insufficiency syndrome, as evidenced by:
- Feelings of exhaustion
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Lack of energy
- Increased blood sugar levels, causing:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Unexplained tiredness
- Nervous system effects, such as tremor or nervousness
- Pneumonia, as evidenced by any of the following symptoms:
- Increase in mucus production
- Increased breathing problems
- Increased cough
- Change in mucus color
- Bone thinning or weakness (osteoporosis)
- Eye problems, including:
- Increased pressure in the eye
- Changes in vision
- Increased risk of asthma-related death
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