From Our Chief Medical Officer

The journey began in 1999 when the Board of the American Lung Association approved the creation of a unique research network focused on conducting 'real world' studies in asthma. Realizing that there was no other voluntary health agency conducting its own clinical research and that there was a critical gap in information for a disease that doubled in prevalence in the past ten years, the Lung Association was tapping into an area of research that reaped almost immediate rewards for patients and their physicians.

The concept was and continues to be unique. The Lung Association would provide base support to keep research centers viable from study to study while outside support would be sought from both public and private sources. In addition, the idea was to have large enough populations to ask questions of importance for which the answer might be "nodifference", a very difficult statistical task most research supporting entities avoid. For example, we were able to say that there was "no difference" in asthma episodes after the flu shot or placebo and between the effects of a new expensive drug and an old inexpensive drug.

Twelve years later, the Network is stronger than ever and continues to contribute crucial knowledge in the quest to help people with asthma. The importance of the network has been shown in two critical ways. First, there has been repeated support from both the National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical industry. Second, our results have been repeatedly published in the very best medical journals. Most important, the findings have had a direct impact on the lives of asthma patients and the cost of their care. Most recently, research conducted by the ACRC network discovered that proton pump inhibitors were ineffective in controlling asthma in both adults and children with asymptomatic Gastroesphogeal Reflux. This finding could save more than a billion dollars in prescription costs and reduce complications and adverse effects associated with proton pump inhibitors.

These represent a few of the many findings made possible by the ACRC! In total, our network has completed 8 trials leading to 34 published papers in prestigious journals. In addition to the $38 million contributed by the ALA, the Network has been successful in raising $40.6 million dollars from public and private sources to conduct asthma research that has a direct impact on patients and  their families.

In this issue of the Promise of Research we introduce you to our dynamic ACRC and how their painstaking work has advanced the care and treatment of people with asthma.
— Norman H. Edelman, MD