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FDA Panel Recommends First Non-Drug Asthma Treatment

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A new technology from a small California-based company should be approved as the first non-drug treatment for asthma, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended Wednesday.

Asthmatx's Alair System employs bronchial thermoplasty, which uses radiofrequency wave-generated heat to burn away lung tissue that impairs breathing and causes wheezing and coughing spasms, the Associated Press reported.

The radiofrequency waves are delivered via a catheter controlled by a respiratory specialist. The procedure, performed over three sessions of a half hour each, is appropriate only for adult patients with severe asthma that doesn't respond to drug treatment.

The FDA panel voted six to one to recommend approval of the new system under certain conditions, including long-term safety monitoring of patients, the AP reported. The FDA usually follows the advice of its advisory panels.

The Alair System is already approved in Europe. If the FDA does approve the system, it may be available in the United States in the first half of 2010.

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