Patient Eric Welby

Research helps Eric to make a difference

Research is a way to help others as well as being a chance to improve your own health.

That’s what appealed to patient Eric Welby when his respiratory consultant at Salford Royal asked if he’d be willing to take part in a new clinical study.

Eric had been living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for around nine years by that time and was aware that it’s currently incurable.

The condition develops because of long-term damage to your lungs from breathing in harmful substances such as cigarette smoke – Eric had also spent several years working in dusty conditions.  The damage permanently narrows your airways, leaving you short of breath doing everyday things.

There are treatments to manage the symptoms and Eric had used several different inhalers as well as tablets.

But after Eric became so poorly with pneumonia and bronchitis that he couldn’t walk or talk, Consultant Dr Nawar Bakerly suggested he take part in a clinical study of an injected treatment designed to prevent flare-ups of his COPD.

Eric, 70, said: “If I can help anybody and if there’s a chance it could help me, then I’m up for it. They were straight with me and explained that it wouldn’t help my breathing but that it could help the exacerbations and I was happy to take part, even though I didn’t know if I was on the treatment or a placebo.”

During the year he was on the study into the efficacy and safety of  benralizumab, Eric had injections every eight weeks. Each time he also had a series of health checks and felt that the close monitoring by the research staff was very reassuring. He also had to fill in an electronic diary with questions about his health twice daily

“The staff at the clinic were unbelievable,” he added. “I got a lot of attention and I felt very safe – they were on top of everything.

“Taking part in research is really nothing to be wary of – I found it really rewarding and would recommend it to anybody. Although the nature of this study means I still don’t know if I was on the treatment or a placebo, I haven’t had any flare-ups and it was good to feel I could ring the team at any time if I had a problem.”

UPDATE: The Galathea study showed that add-on benralizumab was not associated with a lower annualized rate of COPD exacerbations than placebo among patients with moderate to very severe COPD and a history of frequent moderate or severe exacerbations. It was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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