The FDA today granted pre-market approval under its breakthrough devices designation to the Zephyr endobronchial valve made by Pulmonx for treating severe emphysema.
Emphysema, a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, causes irreversible damage to the lung’s alveoli, trapping air during exhalation that in turn can cause the diseased tissue to grow larger and pressure healthy lung tissue. The Zephyr device is designed to decrease the volume of the chest to improve function in the heart, respiratory muscles and healthy lung tissue. Inserted via bronchoscopy, the pencil-eraser-sized valves prevent air from entering the diseased alveoli but allow it to escape during exhalation.
The federal safety watchdog said it granted Zephyr’s PMA based on a 190-patient study comparing treatment with Zephyr, plus standard medical management and pulmonary rehabilitation, to treatment with standard medical management and rehab only. The trial’s benchmark was at least a 15% improvement in pulmonary function score.
Some 47.7% of patients in the Zephyr arm met that mark, compared with 16.8% of the control arm, according to the FDA. Adverse events included death, pneumothorax, pneumonia, worsening of emphysema, coughing up blood, shortness of breath and chest pain, the agency said.
“Treatment options are limited for people with emphysema who have severe symptoms that have not improved from taking medicines. These have included lung surgery, such as lung volume reduction or lung transplants, which may not be suitable or appropriate for all patients,” Tina Kiang, acting director of the Division of Anesthesiology, General Hospital, Respiratory, Infection Control & Dental Devices, said in prepared remarks. “This novel device is a less invasive treatment that expands the options available to patients.”
Pulmonx said more than 14,000 patients have been treated with the Zephyr valve worldwide since 2007.
“It is gratifying to be able to tell the many US patients who have contacted us that help is on the way. We thank FDA for its swift review of the Zephyr Valve. By combining the Zephyr Valves and our patient selection tools, we are bringing precision medicine to the treatment of severe emphysema,” added Pulmonx CEO Glen French.
“Zephyr valves are a major step forward in treating severe emphysema patients who consistently feel short of breath despite all the medications we can offer. I have seen Zephyr valve-treated patients getting back to a more active life doing the things they enjoy. As a physician, it is very gratifying to have a new treatment that can restore a patient’s confidence and change their life for the long term,” lead investigator Dr. Gerard Criner, of Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine, said in a press release.