Management of patients with fibrosing interstitial lung diseases

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: This article summarizes the appropriate use and pharmacology of treatments for fibrosing interstitial lung diseases, with a specific focus on the antifibrotic agents nintedanib and pirfenidone. Summary: The interstitial lung diseases are a heterogenous group of parenchymal lung disorders with a common feature - infiltration of the interstitial space with derangement of the normal capillary-alveolar anatomy. Diseases characterized by fibrosis of the interstitial space are referred to as the fibrosing interstitial lung diseases and often show progression over time: idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is the most common fibrotic interstitial lung disease. Historically, therapies for fibrosing lung diseases have been limited in number, questionable in efficacy, and associated with potential harms. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the antifibrotic agents nintedanib and pirfenidone for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in 2014 heralded an era of reorganization of therapy for the fibrotic interstitial lung diseases. Subsequent investigations have led to FDA approval of nintedanib for systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease and interstitial lung diseases with a progressive phenotype. Although supportive care and pulmonary rehabilitation should be provided to all patients, the role(s) of immunomodulators and/or immune suppressing agents vary by the underlying disease state. Several agents previously used to treat fibrotic lung diseases (N-acetylcysteine, anticoagulation, and pulmonary vasodilators) lack efficacy or cause harm. Conclusion: With the introduction of effective pharmacotherapy for fibrosing interstitial lung disease, pharmacists have an increasingly important role in the interdisciplinary team managing these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-139
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Health-System Pharmacy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology
  • Health Policy


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